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Poland 
Under Nazi 
Occupation 


By 

JANUSZ GUMKOWSKI and KAZIMIERZ LESZCZYNSKI 


POLONIA PUBLISHING HOUSE 

WARSAW 1961 



Translator 

EDWARD ROTHERT 


Graphic design 
DANUTA STASZEWSKA 

Polish Editor 
RYSZARD WASITA 

Technical Editor 
IRENA 2MIGRODZKA 


Reproductions of photographs and photostats of docu- 
ments from the Archives of the Main Commission for 
the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland 
STANISLA W TURSKI 

Other photographs 
STANISLAW MUCHA 
STEFAN BALUK 

From the collection of 
JERZY TOMASZEWSKI 


Printed in Poland 


ZAKLADY KARTOGR AFICZNE, WROCLAW 



CONTENTS 


Page 

The “New Order” in Europe 9 

“Generalplan Ost” . . . . . . . .11 

Plans for the Baltic Nations . . . . . .14 

Slav Nations ......... 15 

Plans for the Polish Nation 21 

Aggression and Border Incidents 34 

Crimes Against Polish Troops ...... 47 

Nazi Camps in Poland 57 

Chelmno Death Camp . 67 

Treblinka 72 

Auschwitz and Genocide ....... 76 

Camps for Soviet Prisoners of War 83 

Extermination of the Jews 96 

The Warsaw Ghetto 101 

Executions 110 

Deportations ......... 131 

Deportations from the Annexed Territories . . 131 

Deportations from the Zamo£6 Area .... 146 

Germanization of Polish Children 164 

Atrocities During the Warsaw Uprising ... 179 

Epilogue 215 




From their experiences during the hostilities, the Polish people 
realized that occupation by the Nazis would be grim. But no one 
ever imagined that it would be an uninterrupted succession of 
crimes, committed not only in cold blood and with premeditation 
but with the utmost viciousness and ingenuity. True, the very 
first days of the war had shown that the Nazi invader was 
devoid of any humanitarian feelings and had no respect for 
international conventions or rules for the conduct of war. In 
its first raids on Polish towns, the Luftwaffe had bombed 
residential areas without any delusion that they were military 
objectives. Any idea that perhaps these were mistakes was 
dispelled by the dropping of fragmentation and incendiary 
bombs on small suburban settlements and on hospitals and 
hospital trains clearly marked with red crosses on their roofs. 
There was also the strafing of defenceless civilians escaping 
along the roads and fields from the burning villages and towns 
before the rapid advance of the Germans. Every day brought 
reports of atrocities being committed by the Wehrmacht in the 
territories they had overrun. There was news of the shooting of 
soldiers who had been taken prisoner and of the ill-treatment 
and slaughter, on any excuse or even completely without any 
justification, of innocent civilians, particularly Jews. 


7 



The occupation authorities proved themselves as brutal and 
vicious, as devoid of all human feelings and careless of law as 
the military. This was something that all the countries occupied 
by the Third Reich were to experience to a greater or lesser 
degree. It sprang from the very core of the political programme 
of Nazism which planned the triumphant conclusion of the war 
to be followed by a complete transformation of Europe, particu- 
larly the East. 



The “New Order” in Europe 


For many centuries the urge to expand eastwards has been 
a part of German history. To start with, the main aim of this 
Drang nach Osten was the extension of the German frontiers at 
the expense of the Slav territories lying to the East. With the rise 
of modern German imperialism, which accompanied the rapid 
economic development in the 19 th century, the field of ambition 
was considerably widened. 

A relatively insignificant conquest of territory around its 
eastern bordes was not enough for Imperial Germany; it was 
aiming at economic and political expansion far to the East. 
These imperialist objectives were taken over and considerably 
enlarged by Nazi Germany. 

Drawing on the pseudo-scientific theory of racism, Nazism 
created its own version according to which the German people 
presented the highest virtues of mankind in the world and 
formed a race of supermen ( Vbermensch ). In the context of this 
theory it was not difficult to build up a myth about the histori- 
cal mission of the German nation and its sacred task to impose 
its authority on the whole of Europe and eventually on the 
whole world. 

Almost from the first moment that Hitler came to power, the 
leaders of the Third Reich and the National Socialist Party 
began to make preparations for the conquest of Europe and the 
creation of a “Thousand-Year Reich.” In addition to the eco- 


9 



nomic, military and strategic preparations, the expansion of the 
war industry, the storing of supplies, the training of the future 
troops, and the drafting of plans for aggression on individual 
countries, a blueprint was also drawn up for a new order in 
Europe to follow the successful conclusion of a war that was 
still to be launched. The rulers of the Third Reich never for 
a second doubted that this was a war that they could not and 
would not lose. 

In these plans for the future political shape of Europe, the 
foremost place was occupied by the East, since the western part 
of the territories lying to the east of Germany were to increase 
the Lebensraum of the Nazi Herrenvolk. The vast areas lying 
further to the East were to become an enormous German sphere 
of influence reaching deep into the heart of Asia. All these plans 
for the future organization of Europe were frequently discussed 
by Hitler and his closest colleagues. 

As far as Eastern Europe was concerned, the details had al- 
ready been worked out before the aggression on Poland. How- 
ever, they were modified and revised until finally, at the begin- 
ning of 1940, there emerged the “The General Plan for the East” 
( Generalplan Ost). 

No all-embracing document of this sort was ever drawn up 
for Western Europe. Nevertheless there are several recorded 
pronouncements by Hitler and leading representatives of the 
Nazi regime which show only too clearly that Western Europe 
was also destined to be radically transformed. 

To illustrate this, it is worth quoting the directives of Hitler 
dealing with the future policy of the Reich towards the West 
European powers, released to a narrow group of his colleagues 
at a conference on June 19, 1940. Among the things he said was: 
“Luxembourg is to be incorporated into the German Reich, 
Norway annexed. Alsace and Lorraine will once more become 
parts of Germany. An independent state will be set up in Brit- 
tany. Under consideration is the question of Belgium, particular- 


10 



ly the problem of treating the Flemish in a special way and of 
forming a state of Burgundy.”* 

Thus the whole of Europe was to be the victim of the Nazi 
imperialist plans; there can be little doubt that the whole world 
was included in their further schemes. 


“Generalplan Ost” 

As has already been mentioned, the future of the East had 
been decided in what was known as Generalplan Ost. It is inter- 
esting, and not without significance, that the body responsible 
for the drafting of this plan was the Reich Security Office 
(Reichssicherheitshauptamt — RSHA), that is, an agency whose 
task was to combat all enemies of Nazism and Nazi Germany. 
It was a strictly confidential document, and its contents were 
known only to those in the topmost level of the Nazi hierarchy. 
Unfortunately not a single copy could be found after the war 
among the documents in German archives. Nevertheless, that 
such a document existed is beyond doubt. It was confirmed by 
one of the witnesses in Case VIII before the American Military 
Tribunal in Nuremberg, SS-Standartenfuhrer, Dr. Hans Ehlich, 
who as a high official in the RSHA was the man responsible 
for the drafting of Generalplan Ost. Apart from this, there are 
several documents which refer to this plan or are supplements 
to it. 

The principal document which makes it possible to recreate 
with a great deal of accuracy just what was contained in 
Generalplan Ost is a memorandum of April 27, 1942 entitled: 
Stellungnahme und Gedanken zum Generalplan Ost des Reichs- 
jiihrers SS (Opinion and Ideas Regarding the General Plan for 

* Confidential note drawn up in Goring’s Headquarters on June 20, 
1940 (Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes in 
Poland — 600/40 x/VIII). 


11 



the East of the Reichsfuhrer SS).* Its author was Dr. Erich 
Wetzel, the director of the Central Advisory Office on Questions 
of Racial Policy at the National Socialist Party (Letter der 
Hauptstelle Beratungsstelle des Rassenpolitischen Amtes der 
NSDAP). This memorandum is in a way an elaboration of Gene- 
ralplan Ost — a detailed description of Nazi policy in Eastern 
Europe. 

The evidence of Hans Ehlich showed that the final version of 
the Plan came into being in 1940. It was preceded by a number 
of studies and research projects carried out over several years 
by various academic centres to provide the necessary facts and 
figures. The preliminary versions were discussed by Himmler 
and his most trusted colleagues even before the outbreak of 
war. This was mentioned by SS Obergruppenfiihrer Erich von 
dem Bach-2elewski during his evidence as a prosecution witness 
in the trial of officials of the SS Main Office for Race and 
Settlement. 

The final version of Generalplan Ost was made up of two 
basic parts. The first, known as Kleine Planung, covered the 
immediate future. It was to be put into practice gradually as 
the Germans conquered the areas to the east of their pre-war 
borders. The individual stages of this “Little Plan” would then 
be worked out in greater detail. In this way the plan for Poland 
was drawn up at the end of November, 1939. 

The second part of the Plan, known as Grosse Planung, dealt 
with objectives to be realized after the war was won. They were 
to be carried into effect gradually and relatively slowly over 
a period of 25-30 years. 

Generalplan Ost presented the Nazi Reich and the German 
people with gigantic tasks. It called for the gradual preparation 
of a vast area of Eastern Europe for settlement by Germans and 

* This memorandum was used in Case VIII of the American Military 
Tribunal — the trial of an official in the SS Main Office for Race and 
Settlement ( SS-Rasse und Siedlungshauptamt)\ it was signed NG 2325 . 


12 



eventual absorption into the great Thousand-Year Reich. This 
area covered territory stretching from the eastern borders of 
Germany more or less to a line running from Lake Ladoga in 
the north to the Black Sea in the region of the Crimea in the 
south. The Thousand-Year Reich was thus to absorb the whole 
of Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic countries excepting Fin- 
land, (for the moment) and a huge chunk of the Soviet Union — 
most of Russia, Byelorussia, the Ukraine and the whole of the 
Crimea. According to the Plan, these areas were to be “germa- 
nized" before being incorporated into the Reich. 

The Nazi document uses the term “Germanization of Eastern 
Territories” ( Eindeutschung der Ostgebiete). This phrase might 
suggest that the author of the Plan had in mind the Germaniza- 
tion of the native populace of these areas. However, it is clear 
from the further wording of the plan that any attempt to Ger- 
manize the Slav nations of Eastern Europe was never in the 
reckoning. On the contrary, the Plan stipulated that these Slav 
territories would be settled by Germans while the vast majority 
of the native populace would be gradually pushed out. Only 
an insignificant number was to be Germanized. In short, Gene- 
ra IpZ an Ost provided for the expulsion of millions of people, 
primarily Slav nations, from their homes and the settlement of 
Germans in their place. This would have been an enormous task 
requiring a fairly long period of time and a formidable effort. 
For it would be easier to expel the people living in these areas 
than to find a sufficient number of Germans to repopulate them. 
The Plan, drawing on the material collected in the preliminary 
stages, concluded that 31 million people would have to be deport- 
ed in the course of 25 years. However, in his 1942 memorandum, 
Dr. Wetzel revised this figure (taking into account certain terri- 
torial changes, natural increase, etc.) and arrived at a total of 
51 million. 

At the time when Wetzel was writing his comments, General- 
plan Ost had ceased to be merely a blueprint. Its first part, the 
Kleine Planung, was already being put into practice. The west- 


13 



em areas of Poland had been incorporated into the Reich 
hundreds of thousands of Poles had been expelled from them! 
and further deportations were in progress. Hundreds of thou- 
sands of Poles were dying in various concentration camps, while 
millions of Jews, herded into ghettos and still ignorant of their 
fate, were awaiting “the final solution of the Jewish problem.” 
The rulers of the Third Reich were in a hurry to carry out their 
criminal plans while there was still a war to divert the attention 
of the world from what was going on in Eastern Europe. 


Plans for the Baltic Nations 

According to Nazi intentions, attempts at Germanization were 
to be undertaken only in the case of those foreign nationals in 
Eastern Europe who could be considered a desirable element for 
the future Reich from the point of view of its racist theories. 
The Plan stipulated that there were to be different methods of 
treating particular nations and even particular groups within 
them. Attempts were even made to establish the basic criteria 
to be used in determining whether a given group lent itself to 
Germanization. These criteria were to be applied more liberally 
in the case of nations whose racial material ( rassische Substanz) 
and level of cultural development made them more suitable than 
others for Germanization. The Plan considered that there were 
a large number of such elements among the Baltic nations. Dr. 
Wetzel felt that thought should be given to a possible Germani- 
zation of the whole of the Estonian nation and a sizable pro- 
portion of the Latvians. On the other hand, the Lithuanians 
seemed less desirable since they contained too great an admix- 
ture of Slav blood. Himmler’s view was that almost the ’whole 
of the Lithuanian nation would have to be deported to the East. 

Whatever happened, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were 
to be deprived of their statehood, while their territories were to 
be included in the eastern area of German settlement. This 


14 



meant that Latvia and especially Lithuania would be covered 
by the deportation plans, though in a somewhat milder form 
than the Slav — “voluntary” emigration to western Siberia. 


Slav Nations 

Under Generalplan Ost, all Slavs unfit for Germanization were 
to be expelled from the areas marked out for German settlement. 
In considering the fate of the individual nations, the architects 
of the Plan decided that it would be possible to Germanize about 
50 per cent of the Czechs, 35 per cent of the Ukrainians and 
25 per cent of the Byelorussians. The remainder would have to 
be deported to western Siberia. 

It was planned to remove the Czech intelligentsia not only 
from the areas marked for German settlement but from Europe 
in general, since their attitude to the Third Reich was hostile 
and they would be a threat to it even in Siberia. Apparently 
they were considered capable of organizing resistance to German 
rule. The best solution, thought the Plan’s authors, would be to 
enable the Czech intelligentsia to emigrate overseas. 

As for the Ukrainians, the original idea was to leave about 
one-third in the future German settlement area. Naturally, this 
group was to undergo gradual Germanization. The remaining 
two-thirds were to be deported to Siberia. A Reichskommissariat 
Ukraine was to be set up in the area not marked for German 
colonization. Later these ideas were revised, and the intention 
was rather to deport the Ukrainians not suitable for Germani- 
zation to the area of this Reichskommissariat. However, the 
details of these plans had not been finalized. The Byelorussians 
were to be treated similarly to the Ukrainians, with this differ- 
ence that only about a quarter were to be Germanized and the 
rest deported to Siberia. 

The plans for Poles and Russians were different. These two 
nations presented the Germans with greater difficulties. At first 


15 



glance this seems somewhat puzzling, since, in Wetzel’s opinion, 
the Polish and Russian nations possessed many of the Nordic 
characteristics, proper to the German nation. It is only from his 
later remarks that it transpires that both the leading circles of 
the NSDAP and the Reich Security Main Office held the view 
that, though the Polish nation lent itself to Germanization as 
far as racial characteristics were concerned, political considera- 
tions made it necessary to abandon any plans for full-scale 
Germanization. This held out no hope of success because of the 
Poles’ highly developed sense of patriotism, their hostile attitude 
to Germany and their natural bent for underground activity. 
The attribution of these qualities to the Poles and the conclusion, 
completely justified as it happens, that voluntary Germaniza- 
tion of even a fraction of the Poles was doomed to failure, goes 
a long way to explain the methods used against the Polish people 
from the very outset of the occupation, methods designed to 
wipe out the greatest possible number of Poles. 

The provisions of the Plan were that 80-85 per cent of the 
Poles would have to be deported from the German settlement 
area — to regions in the East. This, according to German calcula- 
tions, would involve about 20 million people. About 3-4 million — 
all of them peasants — suitable for Germanization as far as 
“racial values’’ were concerned — would be allowed to remain. 
They would be distributed among German majorities and Ger- 
manized within a single generation. 

The 20 million Poles not suitable for Germanization presented 
greater difficulties. Obviously they would have to be expelled 
from their native land; but the problem was what to do with 
them. Wetzel stated in his comments that the Polish question 
could not be settled in the same way as the Jewish. In his 
opinion, this might discredit the German nation in the eyes of 
the world for years to come. It might seem strange that this 
anxiety about world public opinion was not felt concerning 
“the final solution of the Jewish problem.” Presumably the 
Nazi leaders thought that the extermination of the Jews would 


16 




Civilian graves on Trzech Krzyzy Square in Warsaw after the bombing of Sep- 
tember 1939 


Berlin, dan 20 . Juai 1940 

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Tirst page of the minutes from the conference held in Goring** Head- 
quarters on dune 20, 1940 


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Second page of these minutes 


r? - 

Document* Photostat 

Origin i hqs of Field Marshal GOEhlfcG 
hats i 10 June 1*40 
Summary * 

Report on a discussion. According to HITLER'S will, 
air armament production will bs increased. Raw materials from 
the oooupled territories will be taken to Germany. Lire stock 
will be taken away from Northern France and Belgium (not from the 
Flemish population). The traffic problem in Germany must be eolrea . 

Efforts of German industrialists to take over the Indus tr 
of the oooupled territories is prohibited as yet. A cautious policy ' 
towards The Netherlands; they will be Independent but under German 
economic influence. Luxembourg, Alsace-Lorraine and Norway will 
be incorporated into the Reich. An independent Bretagne will be 
established. The question of Belgium and of an Independent Burgundy 
State is not decided as yet. The British Air Force tried to destrcv 
our oil supplies. Measures to be taken to face this danger* 
decentralisation of supplies, more flak protection, etc. 



There are no names of American Nationals involved. 
Source of documents Berlin Document Center. 


Translation of paragraph 6, page 2. 

Geperal intentions concerning the political developments * 

Luxembourg shall be Incorporated into the German Reich, Norway 
•hall go to Germany. Alsace-Lorraine will be re Incorporated into 
Germany. It is intended to set up an independent B re tonic State. 
Intentions are still pending concerning Belgium, the special treat- 
ment of the Flemish element there, and the forming of a State of 
Burgundy. 


KtOCE^ED BY: 

t ctiilN'T 

i :c >- u i •i~ VJ 

V»V \ w* •* 

OAT / s 
JIGMATU’E. 


Summary of a conference held in Goring’s Headquarters on June 20, 1DI0 
prepared by the Prosecutor’s Office of the American Military Tribunal 


pass almost unnoticed in a world absorbed, as it then was, by 
a war effort on an unprecedented scale. In the Nazi plans, the 
final solution of the Jewish problem — that is the annihilation 
of European Jewry, was to be completed before the end of the 
war. The other argument used against mass extermination of 
the Poles was the fear that other nations in the East would feel 
themselves threatened by the same fate. There is, of course, no 
need to delude ourselves that humanitarian motives would have 
led the Nazis to shrink from mass annihilation of the Polish 
people or any other nation. If they rejected the methods tried 
out on the Jews, it was purely because of practical considera- 
tions — the fear that this threat to. their existence might unite 
the Slav peoples in common opposition to Nazi rule. The Hitle- 
rites reckoned that Germany, though master of vast areas after 
the triumphant conclusion of the war, would be considerably 
weakened in numbers. 

The only solution, therefore, to the Polish question, according 
to Generalplan Ost, was the deportation of 80-85 per cent of the 
Poles to western Siberia. They were to be scattered over as wide 
an area as possible and intermixed with the local populace. The 
Germans were afraid that if the Poles were settled as a compact 
group they would in time Polonize the Siberians (Sibiriakentum) 
and a “Greater Poland” would evolve in that region. Fragmen- 
tation was to lead to an opposite development — assimilation and 
and absorption by the local population. 

As in the case of the Czechs, Wetzel recommended that the 
Polish intelligentsia be allowed to emigrate overseas; he consid- 
ered that this social group with its great organizing talents 
and propensity for underground activity was a grave threat to 
the future Thousand-Year Reich. 

Generalplan Ost devoted relatively little space to the Russian 
question, though in his memorandum Wetzel stressed that its 
proper solution was of great importance to Nazi policy in East- 
ern Europe. The Russian nation, he said, was a young one, hence 
biologically strong. Apart from this it possessed a considerable 


2 


17 



admixture of Nordic blood; though this might raise the racial 
value of a particular nation in the eyes of theoreticians and 
politicians of this philosophy, it also made it a dangerous oppo- 
nent. For this reason, in the Nazi thinking, the Russians, like the 
Poles, constituted a serious danger to the future great Reich. 

Of course, there could be no question of “liquidating” the 
Russian nation. Apart from all considerations of a political and 
economic nature, this would have involved enormous technical 
problems, as Wetzel clearly emphasized. Other measures had to 
be sought to insure Germany against the danger threatening it 
from this area. For this purpose it was intended to split the 
whole territory of the Soviet Union — both in Europe and in 
Asia — into a number of administrative areas — Generalkomissa- 
riats — under German rule. In the demarcation of these areas, 
national factors would be taken into account with the aim of 
encouraging separatist tendencies. Essentially Russian territories, 
that is central Russia ( Reichskommissariat Russland) would also 
be split up into Generalkommissariats, very loosely tied to each 
other. The object was to splinter as far as possible the national 
cohesion of the Russians. Wetzel stated that a situation should 
be aimed at in which a Russian from the Gorki Generalkommis- 
sariat would feel that he was different from a Russian in the 
Tula Generalkommissariat.* The first task, then, was to break 
down the unity of the nations of the Soviet Union, and then to 
split the Russian nation from the inside. To make certain of this 
objective Wetzel considered imperative “a racial sifting of the 
Russians.” By this phrase he meant the removal of the most 
valuable element “from a racial point of view” and their Ger- 
manization. This led him to imagine, in accordance with the 
theory of racism, that the Nordic elements in each nation deter- 
mine its value and ability, and that the elimination of a few 
million “Nordic types” from among the Russian people would 

* Stellungnahme und Gedanken zum Generalplan Ost dcs Relclis- 
jiihrers SS p. 29. 


18 



reduce it, from loss of “Nordic blood,” to a lower racial category 
within a couple of generations. He thought that as a result of 
this process the Russians would become stupid and apathetic, 
lose all their initiative and readily accept the guiding role of 
the Germans. 

Apart from these two methods of protecting the Nazi Reich 
against the Russian danger, Generalplan Ost also suggested the 
necessity of using another preventive measure — destruction or 
at least considerable reduction of the biological vitality of the 
Russian nation. This was a proposal that, in fact, concerned all 
the Slav peoples. 

The object of this biological campaign was to curb the natural 
increase. Under the Nazi plan, a deliberate and calculated policy 
was to be conducted in the eastern part of Europe to cut down 
the natural increase by the double device of trying to reduce 
the birth rate and taking no steps to combat mortality. 

Generalplan Ost, having distributed enormous areas of Eastern 
Europe as Lebensraum for the Germans, devoted a great deal 
of space to the methods to be used in ridding these areas of the 
people who had been living there for centuries. But very little — 
and that superficially — was said about how these areas were 
to be re-populated by Germans. This, of course, sprang from the 
difficulties involved in solving this problem not only in practice 
but even in theory. 

It is simple to plan the expulsion of whole nations from their 
age-old territories and the deportation, over a longer or shorter 
period of time, of millions of men and women. 

This was a lesson learned only too well by the Poles during 
the whirlwind deportations from western Poland after its incor- 
poration into the Reich, or during the expulsion of the Polish 
population from the Zamosc region. It is, however, much more 
difficult to fill depopulated areas, even in theory, with settlers 
who just do not exist. 

Generalplan Ost stipulated, after Wetzel’s revisions, that 
50 million people, mainly Slavs, were to be deported from 


19 



Eastern Europe. Their place could be taken, over a period of 
30 years — allowing for natural increase and immigration from 
other Germanic countries — at most by 10 million, though prob- 
ably not more than 8 million, settlers. Dr. Wetzel realized the 
difficulties that would arise in the settlement of the eastern 
regions, but he consoled himself with the thought that a similar 
situation once faced North America. The use of this analogy 
suggests a further train of thought, admittedly not pursued by 
Wetzel, but which can hardly be ignored. The Americans were 
incapable of exploiting the vast territories they had acquired 
through extermination of the Indians and had to resort to Negro 
slave-labour. The Nazi scheme to detail manpower from among 
the native population to work on the farms of German settlers 
strongly recalls the buying of slaves by American farmers and 
plantation owners in the first half of the 19th century. This 
scheme did not talk about the “hiring” of farm labourers but 
expressly used the word “detailing,” in other words, the will- 
ingness, or at the very least the wishes, of the people concerned 
was to be completely disregarded. In addition, the labourers 
assigned to each farm would have belonged to different national- 
ities unable to speak each other’s language. It was supposed that 
this would force the labourers to use German, the only language 
that all of them would out of necessity know, and thus hasten 
the process by which they would lose their sense of nationality 
and even bring about their Germanization. It seems, however, 
that the main object was to hinder any opportunities for col- 
lusion which might lead to passive resistance or even organized 
revolt against the Germans. 

This has been a very general description of the provisions 
contained in Generalplan Ost, and particularly in Wetzel’s me- 
morandum which, as was said before, was an elaboration of it. 
That this plan was to have been put into effect, and would have 
been, had Nazism triumphed, is shown by the fact that a number 
of its provisions were actually carried out, especially in Poland. 



Plans for the Polish Nation 


There can be no doubt that Nazi plans for Poland had been 
outlined long before the aggression of 1939, at a time when the 
Reich Government was still assuring Poland of its friendship 
and had signed a non-aggression pact. When Generalplan Ost 
was being drawn up, Poland was included in the “Little Plan’’ 
(Kleine Planung), which meant that part of the projects were 
to be carried out before the conclusion of the war. 

Almost immediately after the conclusion of military operations 
in Poland, Hitler issued a decree on October 8, 1939* annexing 
the western part of Poland: the whole of Pomorze (Pomerania), 
the provinces of Poznan and Upper Silesia and parts of Lodz, 
Cracow, Warsaw and Bialystok Provinces. These territories were 
to become an integral part of the Nazi Reich (the so-called New 
Reich) “for all time.” Both in area and population they amount- 
ed to almost half the territory of the Polish state occupied by 
the Reich in 1939. 

The remaining territory became the “Government General,” 
a sort of reservation for the Poles under the absolute rule of 
Dr. Hans Frank, appointed by Hitler to the post of “Governor 
General of the Occupied Polish Territories.” 

Though the rulers of the Third Reich had wasted no time in 
partitioning and seizing the territories the Nazis had overrun, 

• Reichsgesetzblatt 1939, p. 2,042. 


21 



they were still far from having finally solved the problem of 
Lebensraum. One obstacle was the Polish people living in this 
easily acquired area. They had to take into account the fact 
that these territories were inhabited by a nation of 29 million 
that possessed a thousand years’ history, rich traditions and 
their own advanced culture. This nation could not just suddenly 
disappear from the face of the earth to suit the wishes of the 
Nazi Reich. This, however, was precisely what the Nazi plans 
called for: the Polish nation was to cease to exist just as in the 
minds of the rulers of the Reich the Polish state had ceased to 
exist. This is why the Nazis launched a merciless campaign 
against the Poles. 

Though Ceneralplan Ost included plans for dealing with Po- 
land in its first part, these were formulated only in general 
terms; the details had still to be filled in and concretized for 
practical application. Among the many confidential documents 
discovered in Nazi archives after the fall of the Reich, there 
were a number discussing in detail Nazi plans for Poland. It is 
worth giving the contents of some of them, even if only in 
general outline. 

The lengthiest of these documents is a memorandum drawn 
up by the aforementioned Dr. Erich Wetzel and Dr. G. Hecht 
on the orders of the NSDAP Office for Questions of Racial 
Policy. It is dated November 25, 1939.* Like Wetzel’s memo- 
randum concerning Generalplan Ost it has all the appearance 
of a scholarly work, but it exposes in full all the charlatanism 
and preposterousnes of the pseudo-scientific arguments used by 
the makers of racial policy. There is not the slightest attempt 
on their part to conceal the criminal immorality of these plans. 
Whatever modifications the directives contained in this memo- 
randum underwent in the course of application, they were 

* A photostat of this document is in the files of the Main Commission 
for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland; it was published in 
Polish translation in vol. IV of the Commission's Bulletin in 1948. 


22 



nevertheless in principle the guiding line of Nazi policy in Po- 
land throughout the occupation. 

The memorandum contains 36 pages of typescript and is di- 
vided into three sections. A short introduction announces that 
section 1 deals with the structure of Poland from the national 
and racial point of view and gives a demographic description 
of the country. Section 2 discusses the problem of the Poles in 
the new territories of the Reich (annexed Polish territory) and 
the problem of colonization and resettlement. Finally section 
3 covers special problems. 

The first section begins with historical falsehood: “The Poles, 
an offshoot of the Western Slav group of nations, owe the birth 
of their nation and state to Germanic tribes. Hundreds, even 
thousands of years before the arrival of the Slav tribes, the 
major portion of the area of the Polish state was inhabited by 
Germans and other nations of the Nordic race.” The authors 
further claim in their historical survey that it was not till several 
hundred years after these German tribes had withdrawn that 
the Western Slav tribes began slowly to assume the form of 
a nation. “This transformation into a nation the Poles owe to 
the Germans left in this area and the Norman overlords who 
had come here and formed the nobility. It is typical that the 
fii'st ruler to unite the Polish tribes (about 960 A. D.) was the 
Norman Prince Dago. The Poles later called him Mieszko.’’ 

Wetzel and Hecht carefully omit to quote any historical 
sources for these claims. In any case, they were not concerned 
with truth. Some more or less believable justification had to be 
found in history for the “invincible right” of the Nazi Reich to 
Polish lands in the west. Although the memorandum makes it 
plain that the Slav tribes only began to form a nation several 
hundred years after the Germans had left and that this preceded 
the birth of the Polish state by further hundreds of years, the 
Nazi historians argued that the German nation, as the successor 
and heir of the ancient Germanic tribes, still possessed rights to 
the land occupied by them 1500 years ago. 


23 



This historical justification is followed by a discussion of the 
racial make-up of the Polish nation. It leads Wetzel and Hecht 
to the easily foreseeable conclusion that its racial features con- 
firm the historical theory laboriously propounded at the begin- 
ning, since part of the population bears a clear admixture of 
Nordic blood. 

The object of all these arguments is to justify in advance Nazi 
policy in the western territories seized from Poland, a policy 
formulated in the second section. “The object of German policy 
in the new Reich areas, must be the creation of a German popu- 
lace homogeneous from the point of view of race, hence also from 
the viewpoint of mentality as well as national and political 
consciousness. From this it is clear that all the elements which 
do not lend themselves to Germanization must be removed 
unconditionally. This objective involves three related tasks: 

“First, the total and final Germanization of those groups which 
seem suitable; 

“Second, the expulsion of all foreign nationals not suitable 
for Germanization; 

“Third, resettlement with Germans.” 

The plan of action, it can be seen, though laconic, was very 
explicit. 

First place was given to the concept about the necessity of 
Germanizing part of the native population. However, this con- 
cept had to be reconciled somehow to the racist theory of purity 
of Germanic blood. The Germanization of Poles would contra- 
vene the principles of this theory. This was the point of the 
historical argument quoted above — to show that the ancestors 
of the inhabitants of these lands were Germanic. The authors 
stated flatly: “A German is someone who lives like a German 
in the sense of nationality, customs and family community, 
provided he is of German or related blood.” It would be hard 
to imagine a more vague definition; the only tangible criterion, 
which could be used to determine a person’s nationality — the 
language he uses in his home and with his family — has been 



omitted. The criterion of Germanic extraction is equally vague; 
no clue is given to what is meant by “related” German blood. 
This vagueness was, of course, deliberate, since it left a very 
wide field of choice in selecting those people who either compul- 
sorily or voluntarily were to be registered in these areas on the 
“German national list.” 

The racist principle of purity of blood was also upheld by 
removing the term “Germanization” ( Eindeutschung ) from the 
Nazi vocabulary and replacing it with “re-Germanization” 
(Wieder eindeutschung). As this item of the political programme 
went into effect, the German national lists began to contain, 
apart from a relatively small group of real Germans, the names 
of thousands of Poles in the annexed territories that were put 
there either compulsorily or under the threat of terror. 

People unfit for Germanization were to be expelled. The mem- 
orandum stated that the territory of the “New Reich” contain- 
ed about 5,363,000 Poles who would have to be eliminated by 
resettling them in the Government General. This was not, how- 
ever, so simple. The deportation of such vast numbers would 
present enormous technical problems, above all, of transport. 
So it proved in practice during the “resettlement” carried out 
in the severe winter of 1939 which violated the most elementa- 
ry humanitarian principles. It had to be taken into account, 
therefore, that deportations, particularly in wartime, would take 
a great deal of time — a few years at the least. It also had to be 
remembered that the Government General would be required 
to find room for over 5 million new inhabitants in a compara- 
tively short period. Since it was unavoidable that there would be 
a great number of Poles still living in the annexed territories 
for a number of years, the memorandum provided for an intense 
system of discrimination against them. This was to cover all 
fields of political, social, economic and cultural life. The Poles 
would be unable to become citizens of the Reich or enjoy any 
political rights. They would be expropriated of all rural and 
urban property without compensation. They could not carry 


25 



on any independent trade; they could only work as hired labour 
for German employers. Their wages would be fixed at much 
lower scales than those of Germans. 

All Polish schools and colleges would be closed down — uni- 
versities, secondary, vocational and primary schools. Poles would 
not be allowed to attend German schools, except the very lowest 
grades. 

All Polish periodicals and newspapers would be prohibited. 
It would be forbidden to publish any Polish books. 

All Polish theatres and cinemas, restaurants and cafes would 
be closed. The Poles would be forbidden to go to German the- 
atres or cinemas. They would also be forbidden to have radio 
sets or gramophones. 

These bans even affected religious worship. Services in Polish 
were to be forbidden and Polish religious holidays abolished. 
The only holidays that could be observed were the Catholic and 
Evangelical ones recognized in the Reich. Catholic and Evan- 
gelical services could only be conducted by clergy with the 
proper political qualifications approved by the authorities. Mar- 
riage between Germans and Poles was to be forbidden. 

Further on the memorandum contains the following: 

“In order to destroy all forms of Polish cultural and economic 
life, there can be no Polish associations, unions or federations; 
church associations are also banned.” 

The object of these discriminations was to deprive the Poles 
of all hope for the future, to crush in them all national conscious- 
ness and relegate them to the role of serfs or even slaves carry- 
ing out the lightest whim of the German "superman.” 

The ultimate purpose of Nazi policy was to destroy the Polish 
nation on the whole of Polish soil whether that annexed by the 
Reich or that of the Government General. Eloquent proof of 
this is provided by the directives on the treatment of Poles in 
the Government General — Restpolen, as they were described 
in the third section of the memorandum. 


26 



Although discrimination in some fields of life, mainly economic, 
was not to go as far as in the annexed territories, the funda- 
mental aim, according to the authors, was to be arrived at by 
a different road. The influx of refugees from the west would 
result in over-population and this, in turn would create econom- 
ic misery and a drop in the natural increase. This was strongly 
desirable, since it was not in the interests of the Reich to uphold 
nationally, economically or culturally the populace of the Gov- 
ernment General which was of no value to the Reich from 
a racial viewpoint. 

The inhabitants of the Government General, continued the 
memorandum, should be given special national status, but they 
should not possess any independent political rights. The condi- 
tions created for the Poles should be such that it would become 
next to impossible for them to organize and expand any nation- 
al liberation movement. For this reason there should be a ban 
on the formation not only of political organizations but also 
cultural associations — for instance singing groups, tourist clubs 
and especially sports and gymnastic associations. To raise the 
physical fitness and efficiency of the Poles was far from being 
in the German interest. 

The authors then discussed the problem of how to treat the 
Jewish and Polish population; they saw two possible solutions. 
It is best to give them in their own words: 

“One way is provided by the plan to keep both Poles and 
Jews alike at the same low level of living and deprive them of 
all political, national and cultural rights. In this case the Poles 
and Jews would be left in the same position. 

“As for the second way, here the opportunities for the Poles 
to develop nationally and culturally would be no less restricted 
than under the first plan. The Jews, however, would be given 
slightly more freedom, particularly in the cultural and economic 
field, so that some decisions on administrative and economic 
matters would be taken in consultation with them. As far as 
domestic policy is concerned this solution would lead to still 


27 



greater economic encroachment by the Jews, but it would still 
leave the Jews grounds for serious complaints and with constant 
difficulties.” 

The mentality and ethical and moral standards of the theore- 
ticians of National Socialism are vividly illustrated by this plan 
to create a situation which would inevitably lead to bitter 
hatred between Poles and Jews. Undoubtedly, the purpose was 
to turn the Polish and Jewish community, united in theory by 
their common servitude, one against the other by rousing in 
them the basest human instincts in the struggle for the miserable 
crumbs of an illusory freedom, or rather for the means of 
existence. 

As is known, the Jewish problem was eventually solved in 
a completely different way. The Nazis came to the conclusion 
that total extinction of Jewry would be the most radical and 
indeed “final” solution. 

The memorandum stressed that reduction of the birth i*ate 
in the Government General was desirable. In this connection 
abortion and sexual perversion should be tolerated. The health 
of the Poles, the sort of medical attention provided for them 
and the training of young doctors should be of no interest to 
the Germans. Their own medical service should confine itself 
merely to preventing the spread of infectious diseases from 
Restpolen to the Reich. 

As in the case of the annexed territories, the plan called for 
lowering the level of education and culture. The reduction of 
theatres and cinemas was recommended; in those remaining 
open, the programmes offered should be of the lowest possible 
standard. The same was recommended for newspapers, journals 
and all forms of publications. There was to be a ban on the 
formation of educational and cultural associations, even singing 
groups, and of course sports and gymnastic clubs. 

All institutions of higher education as well as secondary and 
vocational schools were to be closed. It is worth quoting the 
directives concerning the curriculum for primary schools. 


28 



“Only general primary schools are permitted and they will 
teach only the most rudimentary subjects such as reading, 
writing and arithmetic. The teaching of such subjects as geo- 
graphy, history and history of literature, which are important 
from a national point of view, as well as physical training is 
forbidden. However, the schools should give training in agri- 
culture, forestry and simple industrial trades and handicrafts.” 

After this any further evidence of the Nazi intent to deprive 
the Polish nation of its intelligentsia, considered dangerous 
because of their organizing abilities and natural leadership, 
seems supererogatory. 

The memorandum contained some interesting advice on the 
selection of teachers. Wetzel and Hecht emphasized that the 
Polish teaching profession, particularly the schoolmistresses, 
were “prominent apostles of Polish chauvinism.” By chauvinism 
they, of course, meant patriotism, and it is true that the Polish 
teacher has always been a promoter of patriotism, even in the 
darkest days of the partitions. The conclusion was drawn that 
professional Polish teachers, therefore, should in time be 
removed from all schools in the Government General as a harm- 
ful and dangerous influence. But another source of excellent 
teaching staff has been found: “It seems that it would suit our 
purposes if retired officers of the Polish police were later 
appointed as teachers in these primitive schools. In this way 
the establishment of teachers’ training colleges would become 
unnecessary.” 

The purpose behind this undoubtedly visionary project is 
so obvious that it seems pointless to add any comment. 

These, in a nutshell, were the directives of Nazi policy towards 
the Poles, based on apparently scholarly principles and contain- 
ed in an official document. The document was neither secret 
nor even classified. Apparently the NSDAP and government 
leaders did not think it necessary to conceal their intentions. 

Nazi plans were outlined with even greater cynicism in 
another document; its author was none other than Reichsfiihrer 


29 



SS Heinrich Himmler, Reich Commissioner for the Consolida- 
tion of German Nationhood ( Reichskommissar fur die Festigung 
deutschen Volkstums). The six-page typescript was entitled 
“Some Comments on the Treatment of Foreign Nationals in the 
East.” This document, dated May 5, 1940, was signed by Himmler 
himself and was highly confidential. * To it was added a note 
from Himmler that the contents had been shown to Hitler who 
had found them “very good and appropriate.” 

It is worth quoting a few excerpts from this work. It must be 
remembered that the term “East” was used by Himmler to mean 
the occupied Polish territories and “foreign nationals,” the 
populace of this area, that is primarily Poles. 

Himmler started by saying that they must recognize and 
uphold the existence of the greatest number of individual na- 
tional groups in Polish regions, in other words, apart from the 
Poles and Jews also the Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Gorale 
(highlanders), Lemki and Kashubians. “By this I mean that it 
is very much in our interest not only not to unite the people 
of the East but the reverse — to splinter them into as many 
parts and subdivisions as possible. We should also aim for 
a situation in which, after a longer period of time has passed, 
the concept of nationality disappears among the Ukrainians, 
Gorale and Lemki. “The object was to fragmentize the Polish 
nation from the inside by the creation of previously non-existent 
nationalities such as the Gorale, Lemki and Kassubians, and so 
make it easier to deprive it of its nationality afterwards. 

Later in the “Comments” comes this passage: 

“The basic question in the solution of all these problems is 
the question of schooling, hence the question of reviewing and 
sifting the youth. 

“For the non-German population of the East there can be no 

* Einige Gedanken iiber die Behandlung der Fremdvolkischen irn 
Osten. Records of the trial of Joseph Biihler before the Supreme Nation- 
al Tribunal, vol. VI p. 65 ff. 


30 



type of school above the four-grade rudimentary school. The 
job of these schools should be confined to the teaching of count- 
ing (no higher than up to 500), the writing of one’s name, and 
the teaching that God’s conmmandment means obedience to the 
Germans, honesty, industry and politeness. Reading I do not 
consider essential.” 

It seems almost incredible that ideas of this sort could arise 
in the minds of men who in the middle of the 20th century 
occupied the highest positions in the government of one of the 
biggest and oldest states in Central Europe. Their object was 
to reduce Poles not so much to the status of slaves but rather 
soulless robots endowed with only the most primitive intelli- 
gence. 

Further on Himmler wrote about children “valuable from 
the racial point of view,” who should be taken from their parents 
and sent to Germany where they would be educated and Ger- 
manized. “Useless” children were to be left alone. This scheme 
is the best proof of the hypocrisy of the theory of racism; even 
the Nazi leaders could hardly have believed it if they had no 
qualms about introducing “valuable racial elements” into the 
German nation even if these elements descended in a direct line 
from the “defective” Slavs. True, they could always fall back 
on the mythical German or at least Norman ancestors from 
a thousand years back, “If these orders are carried out consist- 
ently,” concluded Himmler, “the population of the Government 
General in ten years’ time will be made up of the remaining 
useless populace, deportees from the eastern provinces and from 
all parts of the Reich, people belonging to the same racial and 
ethnic group (for instance, Serbians and Lusatians). This popu- 
lace, deprived of its leaders, will be at the disposal (of Nazi 
Germany) as manpower and every year will provide seasonal 
labour for the Reich as well as labour for special jobs (road 
construction, quarrying, building); they will have better food 
and be able to live better than under Polish rule; at the same 
time, deprived of its culture under the strict, consistent and 


31 



just guidance of the German nation, they will be called on to 
help in the building of its enduring culture and monuments, 
and — as far as the tremendous amount of ordinary work done 
is concerned — perhaps even make them possible.” 

Any scepticism about Himmler’s boast that his ideas met with 
the approval of Hitler is dispelled by a third document contain- 
ing a pronoucement made by the Fuhrer himself. This is a con- 
fidential note, dated October 2, 1940, drawn up in Berlin on the 
orders of Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, later chief of staff of 
the NSDAP and Hitler’s deputy.* 

‘‘On October 2, 1940,” it begins, ‘‘a conversation was started 
after lunch in the Fuhrer’s apartment about the nature of the 
Government General, the treatment of the Poles and the inclu- 
sion of the Piotrkow and Tomaszow areas in the “Warta 
Region” ( Warthegau ) that 'had been ordered by the Fuhrer.” 
During this discussion the floor was taken by Baldur von Schi- 
rach, Hans Frank and Erich Koch. Finally Hitler spoke, taking 
a fundamental attitude to the problem in general. He said: 
“Under no circumstances should the Government General be- 
come a self-contained and uniform economic area producing all 
or some of the industrial articles needed by it; it must be 
a reservoir of manpower for us to perform the most menial jobs 
(brickmaking, road construction, etc.). 

“It is therefore completely in order for a large surplus of 
manpower to exist in the Government General so that every 
year there would be a supply of labour for the Reich. We must 
be ruthlessly on our guard to prevent the emergence of any 
‘Polish masters;’ wherever they are found, they must, however 
harsh this may sound, be eliminated.” 

A little later Hitler made it clear what he meant by “Polish 
masters.” 

“Once more the Fuhrer must point out that the Poles can 


* This document marked USSR-172, was included in the evidence 
submitted at the Nuremberg Trial against the principal war criminals 


32 



/21 4 _gen. 


_A b ichr i r % 

GmiM Helcnaeacne^ 

Berlin, dan 2'* 4 * 1u42 


J tei iu ngn ahne u P d B * • B_ 

sub Generalplen Oat daa Helena ftih re ra ~3„ 


lirelts 1 b Kovttb^r eurda Blr bekannt* difi daa Reicl'i* 

•loherhel tanauptaat an einer Generalplanung fUr den Catan arbai- 
lata. Dtr laitlDdlfe Saonbtarbtiter 1 b HaicnaalcharnaltanaupteBt, 
Standartenronrer lHUob, nasata nir daaala achon dia 1 b Plan ir- 
elnnta Xlffar 31 Mill, auazuaiadalnder rraBdaCllriBcner. radar- 

fan rand lat 1 b dar Ang alaganhal t tod dan Dianatatallan daa H«lcha- 
fUbrara 33 daa Ialcnaalenarnaitanaupta*t f daa offanaichtlich Pao- 
l| t atarkata Foaltlon antar dan ainaalnan Dianatatallan daa 
KalonafOnrara 33 Hat. Danal Bird daa RaioftaalcnarhaltanauptaBt 
hi«p sach dar Jatat top dan Dianatatallan daa Kalcnamnrara CS 
▼artratanan tneorle ofranbar anch ala fialehaPOBBlaaar fUr dla *e- 
stlgung daatavnan YoiKatuna tatig. 

j--i > inai sua Camralplan Oat. 

In aalnar Zlalaatxung, n^wlicn dar oeaoalcntigtan iinda^t- 
sonung dar in 3etracht zoanenden OatgaDleto lat dar Plan tu til- 
oigen . Dia gavaltlgan 3cn«larl£<eitsn» dia zaairalloa bei dar 
Durcnrtlnrung daa Pinna: anxtauenen, dxa zun lail sogir Zeairel 
an selnar Durchfunrung noraorrufan Kennon, war Ian jedocn.ln d-n 
Plan ▼erMltnianktig lalont genotnen. Jaa d-.a S^rdiuagagebla t 
zunMcnat angent, eo rfcut aux*, dak in dao Plan ing«raanl:ind» 
dar Dnjaprbogen, laurien und die tir^c ala 3le liungagabiota nar- 
*u age no amen alnd. Dlee Darunt orranoar daraur, dak in dar Zei- 
cohanzalt dlaaa neutn Siediur.g v,>ro joz to run zugazoxa-en zu aam 
aoneinen, tlber dla an Soniuk dieser aus : U nrungcn noon geapro- 
cnen warden aofi. 

Anon aonat aonalnt neut- ala 3i« dlungacrenxa naoh Oatan« 
dan nordllonan und nittieren .an dar Oatgrenra aatnitt, 

• ina wonl Behr naon Oatlioh gelogene A.ime, dia eoB indogn-See- 
deldtundfte Dla 3rj*naz aarlluit, gannnnt \u warden. Oo inaoiera 


- ku^*A.... % A k Lu 


J»r. E. Wetzel's memorandum of April 27, 19 «, concerning Himmler's 
General Plan for the East (first page) 


voKUciitn la Oeten. 


Bel der Jthandlung der freadvo Ik 1 schen la 
Often 1 'ssen air darauf sehen 9 ao viel *ie tnog- 
liCh einzelne V 0 Ikersci.af ten anzuerkennon und zu 
pfleren, also neben cten f'olen und Juden, die 
Jkrainer, die ..e issrussen , die Gora ten, die Le-aken 
und die ,ascl»uten. *enn sonst noch irqendao Volke- 
splitier zu findeo sind, auch dltse. 

Icn will danii sagfcr, dass air rticht nur cat 
grosste Interesse daran h>iben, die devolktrung des 
vitens nichi zu einen 9 soneern \i% Gegentell In 
acglicns't vlele Teile un*’ 5p liter zu zergliedjern. 

Abtr auch Innerhalb der rfolkerechaf ten aelbat 
haben tir nicht das lnteresse 9 dltae zu Einhelt 
unc Grosae zu fiihren 9 Ihnen vlellelcht allaahllch 
•itionalbenusstsein und rationale Kultur beizu- 
bringen, sondern ^ie in unzShllge klelne Splitter 
und ‘'artlkel aufzulasen. X 

Lie Angehorlgen alter dicser /dlkerschaf ten, 
insbesondere der klelnen, aollen air selbstver- 
stanolich in den SteUen von Po ttzel beaaten und 
ourgereeistern veraenden. 

opltzen In so'lchen Vdlkerscbaf ten durfen nur 
die (kirgeraelster und die drtllchen rvrHzeibehc^ 
den seln; be 1 den 6oralen die e1nzelnen 9 eich ohne- 

- 2 - 


llijnmler’s remarks on May 15, 1940, about the treatment of foreign na< 
tionals in the East (first page) 


DU lavdUarvag <•$ G*aaratfou»araeB«« t» 

(•tzt • 1 ch di«n zaangalluflg nich ataa r konsequaa- 
tan Durchf l hrung dlcser lassnaiioaa la laufa dar 
nac.istan 1C Jahra aus alnar ? arblalbendaa aindar- 
tar t Igaa Btvdlkarung, dlenoch durch abgeschobane 
laaolkerung der Oatprovlnzan soale all' dar ialta 
daa deutschen .lalches, die dieselbe rassUcne und 
■emchllche Art haben (Telle, z.B. dor oorban and 
Vanden), zusaaaea. 

btaae Bevolkerung vlrd als funrerloaes A r- 
beitsvolk zur Varfugung stanan und ueutachland 
ja.irlich .fanderarbei tar und Arbeitar fur bason- 
dere Arbe i tivorkonnan (otrassan, btai nbruc*»a, 0au- 
ten) stellan; ala ilrd selbat dabal mhr zu aaaao 
und zu leban haoan als untar dar polntschen iarr- 
scnaft und bat alganar Kul turloalgkalt untar dwf 
•trangen, konsequentan und garecntan rial tung daa 
ueutachan Volkes berulen sain, an dessan evigen 
* u 1 tur tatan und Jaui^rkan ai tzuarbei tan und dlaaa, 

• as dta !4enge d..r grooen Arbalt anlangt, vlelleicbt 
erst erooglichan. 




Last page of Himmler’s remarks with his signature 


I ' 



Do(fn iff d.« 
i drs 3pf>rtplal5C5 
lu'i strnfc pn bottn- 

5Aufr«gJ, im W"i TJcriVmtekonMnift 
Pcfakcm na fret she pc d 
Aar a irstcp U'tbrchicnt/. 


Notice forbidding Poles to enter the sports ground in 2ywicc 


Notice forbidding Poles to enter the park 



only have one master, and that is the German; two masters 
cannot and must not exist side by side; therefore all representa- 
tives of the Polish intelligentsia should be eliminated ( umbrin - 
gen). This sounds harsh, but such are the laws of life. 

“The Government General is a reservation for Poles, a huge 
Polish work camp. This is good for the Poles because we look 
after their health and make sure they do not die of hunger, etc. 
However, we must never allow them to climb to a higher level 
because then they would become anarchists and Communists.” 

These remarks by Hitler epitomize the directives issued by 
Himmler and the detailed project embodied in the memorandum 
of Wetzel and Hecht of November 1939. This programme was 
pursued with only minor variations throughout the occupation. 
The proof lies in the facts, and it is these facts that are present- 
ed in the following chapters. 



Aggression and Border Incidents 


The Nazi Reich wanted to absolve itself of all responsibility 
for the war which it started with the aggression on Poland in 
the early hours of September 1, 1939, and which, as it could 
have been foreseen and was in fact part of the Nazi plan, would 
gradually engulf the whole of Europe. 

Neither Goebbels’ propaganda machine nor the rulers of the 
Reich from Hitler down had any qualms about stooping to lies 
and slander in putting the whole blame and responsibility for 
the outbreak of war on Poland, even though the whole world 
realized that it was Germany which had attacked Poland without 
any provocation. 

On September 1, Hitler informed the Reichstag that war had 
been declared on Poland.* His speech included this passage: 

“Following the recent 21 border incidents in the course of 
a single night, today we have had 14 more, three of them very 
serious... Last night for the first time shots were fired by regular 
troops from the Polish side. Since 5.45 we have been returning 
their fire. Since then we have been answering shot for shot. If 
they use poison gas, they will have poison gas used against 
them. If they infringe the principles of humanitarian conduct 
of war, they can only expect us to take the same steps against 
them." 

* Auswartiges Amt 1939 Nr. 2. Dokumentc zur Vorgcschichte des 
Krieges. Berlin 1939, p. 444. 


34 



On the same day Hitler issued a call to the Werhmacht in 
which he said:* 

“The Polish state has rejected the peaceful settlement of rela- 
tions between neighbours which I sought and instead has resort- 
ed to arms. Germans in Poland are being persecuted with bloody 
terror: they are being driven from their homes. A number of 
border violations, which cannot be tolerated by a great state, 
have shown that Poland has no intention of respecting the 
frontiers of the Reich. To put an end to these reckless outbursts 
there is nothing I can do except from now on answer violence 
with violence...” 

In both these pronoucements Hitler referred to an alleged 
violation, on several occasions, of the German frontier as the 
justification for his aggression. At the end of 1939 the German 
Foreign Ministry ( Auswartiges Amt ) published a White Paper 
containing 482 documents which were supposed to constitute 
unshakeable evidence that no blame attached to the Reich for 
the outbreak of war with Poland. The introduction was written 
by the Foreign Minister, von Ribbentrop, who stated: 

“The war which we are now fighting for the future of Ger- 
many was forced on us and makes it urgently necessary that we 
should always realize how it was that this war came about and 
where its ultimate causes lie. For all who have eyes to see, the 
facts have long been plain as the back of their hand, and they 
have been publicly disclosed by authoritative German spokes- 
men, above all the Fiihrer. However, since the lying propaganda 
of our enemies has been busy trying to obscure the state of 
affairs and delude world opinion not only as to the causes of the 
war but also as to its objects, it is important once more to draw 
on authentic, official documents for indisputable proof that none 
other than England is to blame for the war, the object of which 
is the destruction of Germany.” 

* Der grosse deutsche Feldzug gegen Polen. A. Franz Goth und Sohn, 
Vienna, 1940, p. 12 


35 



It would be far outside the scope of this book to indulge in 
arguments with this White Paper or evaluate the documents in 
it. However, it must be stressed that one of them is marked No. 
470 and concerns the frontier incidents allegedly provoked by 
Poland. 

Not long after the White Paper was released, a publication 
appeared in Berlin entitled “100 Documents from the Period 
Preceding the War” (200 Dokumente sur Vorgeschichte des 
Krieges). These documents were taken from the White Paper, 
and included Document No. 470 which in this collection was 
marked No. 90 (470). Unlike the White Paper, this publication 
contained several postscripts to most of the documents. Docu- 
ment No. 90 had the following note: 

“Thus, all possibilities of a peaceful settlement of the German- 
Polish crisis had been exhausted. As this document testifies, 
Poland had entered the road of violence and in this way had 
created a situation in which the German government was forced 
to counter violence with violence. It could no longer tolerate 
the Polish provocations, which in the last days and hours of the 
crisis had overstepped all bounds, and made peaceful regulation 
of relations impossible. In the early hours of September 1st the 
Wehrmacht was given orders to take counter-measures against 
the constant Polish raids on German territory. The speech made 
by the Fiihrer on the morning of September 1st clarified the 
German attitude and justified to the world the German course 
of action.” 

As can be seen both the government and the Reich propaganda 
machine did their best to convince opinion in Germany and the 
world that the underlying cause and immediate occasion of the 
armed conflict between Poland and Germany were frontier 
incidents organized by the Poles. These provocations, the Nazis 
tried to suggest, had made it impossible to solve the differences 
between the two states by peaceful means. 

Since the Reich rulers attached such great importance to these 


36 



“border incidents” it is worth examining precisely what they 
amounted to. 

Document No. 470, or No. 90 (470), already referred to, was 
a compilation of reports on these frontier incidents and in both 
publications appeared under the lengthy title: “Collection of 
Reports Sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Serious 
Frontier Incidents on the Polish-German Frontier between 
August 25-31, Drawn up by an Official in the Political Depart- 
ment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” 

It listed altogether 44 incidents set out chronologically, day 
by day: 


August 25 — 

8 incidents 


26 - 

4 „ 


27 - 

7 

if 

28 - 

5 „ 


29 - 

5 „ 

>> 

30 - 

4 „ 


31 - 

11 


Each of these incidents was described briefly. 

This document arouses certain doubts. It seems odd that the 
Reich authorities only began paying attention to frontier inci- 
dents on August 25, that is the very day on which an agree- 
ment was signed between Great Britain and Poland concerning 
mutual assistance if war broke out. It should be added that, 
according to Document No. 457 in the White Paper, on the same 
day Hitler, hoping to isolate Poland politically, had invited Sir 
Neville Henderson, the British Ambassador in Berlin and told 
him that the Poles had been responsible for 21 provocative 
incidents on the Polish-German frontier the preceding night. 
By some strange circumstance these incidents did not appear 
in the list in Document No. 470. 

In his speech of September 1st Hitler claimed that the previous 
night there had been 14 incidents: the figure in the list was 11. 
These frequently public references to Polish provocations 
become particularly illuminating when taken in conjunction 


37 



with another document, the contents of which did not become 
known till after the war. This is a speech made by Hitler on 
August 22, 1939, at a meeting of his top leaders in his residence 
in Obersalzberg. “The only object of my pact with Poland,” he 
said, “was to gain time... The present opportunity is the most 
favourable we have had... The attack on Poland and its destruc- 
tion will begin on Saturday morning. I will have a few compa- 
nies dressed in Polish uniforms organize a raid in Upper Silesia 
or the Protectorate. I am not concerned whether the world 
believes this. The world believes only in success...”* 

From this and several other documents it is plain that it was 
not Poland but Germany which was looking for an armed con- 
flict. Thus provocation of frontier incidents, which could be used 
as a casus belli, was in the interests not of Poland but of Ger- 
many, a fact frankly admitted by Hitler in this speech. 

What are the true facts behind the frontier incidents? 

After the war 210 documents of the Reich Main Security 
Office (RSHA) were found in Berlin concerning various provo- 
cative incidents. Among them was File NO 1026 describing the 
destruction of a railway watchman’s house (No. 34) on the 
Ilawa-Rakowice line in Poland. By comparing this description 
with the list of incidents in the White Paper it is plain that this 
case is the same as incident No. 6 of August 25, 1939, mentioned 
in the White Paper. 

Here is the note in the White Paper: 

“6. Report from the State Police Station in Elbing (Elblsig). 

On the night of (August) 25-26 watchman’s house No. 34 was 
blown up on the Eilau (Ilawa) — Smolniki-Dzialdowo line.” 

The first page of File NO 1026 records the following: 

NO 1026 
Kommando: 10 
Building No. NO 26 

1. Region North-East 


* Document L-003 of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. 


38 



2. Type of Building: 


German Reich Railways Watch- 
man’s house 


3. Specification of building See under 12 


4. Detailed description of the Railway watchman’s house No. 34 
site: on the Eilau-Rakowice (Poland) — 

Eilau line. About 100 metres from 
the frontier. Both sides of the line 
and the whole area are wooded 


5. Brief description of the Large house of a railway watchman, 
building: Unoccupied. Property of the Ger- 

man Railways. Because of its dis- 
tance from the German railways, 
without a tenant. 


6. Owner: 


German Reich Railways; value 
about 6000 Rm. 


7. Illustrations of the site: Enclosed: 1 photograph, 1 sketch 


8. Charge required Probability coefficient 


9. Insurance 


10. Tools and Equipment 


11. Time 


12. Remarks: The destruction of this building 

should be treated as anti-German 
sabotage. 

From this it is clear that though there were plans to blow up 
this building they were the plans not of Poles but of agents of 
the German Police. The note in the White Paper stated that 
the destruction of this building took place on the night of 
August 25-26 and that a bomb was used. In fact the building 
never was blown up and survived undamaged until 1945. It 
was not till 1952 that its dilapidated condition caused it to be 


39 







pulled down. There is an unimpeachable record of this in the 
Presidium of the Ilawa County People’s Council dated April 1, 
1953. 

In the early days of the war Goebbels’ propaganda made great 
fuss about two major frontier incidents, allegedly perpetrated 
by Poles on the night of August 31-September 1, 1939. 

Document No. 470 in its listings for August 31 has the follow- 
ing entries: 

4. Report of the Police President of Gleiwitz (Gliwice). At 
about 8 p.m. the radio station in Gleiwitz was attacked and 
temporarily occupied by a unit of Polish irregulars. They were 
driven out by German Frontier Police officers. During the clash 
one of the irregulars was fatally wounded. 

5. Report of the President of Finance ( Oberfinanzprasident ) 
in Opawa. On the night of August 31-September 1 the customs 
office in Hoflinden was attacked and temporarily occupied by 
Polish irregulars* They were driven off after a counter-attack 
by a SS unit ( SS-Verfiigungstruppe ).” 

Both these incidents became court cases. The attack on the 
Gliwice Radio station was discussed at the International Military 
Tribunal in Nuremberg. The attack in Hoflinden was the sub- 
ject of a case before the District Court in Warsaw in 1949 — the 
trial of a war criminal, Jozef Grzimka. The findings in both 
these cases revealed the truth of what took place on the Polish- 
German frontier a few hours before the outbreak of the war. 
The real facts about the Gliwice affair were disclosed in the 
sworn affidavit (Nov. 20, 1945) of Alfred Helmut Naujocks 
presented at Nuremberg by Colonel Storey of the American 
prosecution. 

“I was a member of the SS from 1931 until October 19, 1944 
and a member of the Security Service from its establishment in 

* Both in this report and in the affidavits quoted later of J6zef 
Grzimka and Hans Trummler the name of the place where the Poles 
were alleged to have raided the Customs Office has been misspelt. It 
should be in fact Hochlinden. 


40 



1934 until January 1941. I served in the Waffen SS from Feb- 
ruary 1941 until the middle of 1942. Later I was posted to the 
Economics Department of Military Headquarters in Belgium and 
served there from September 1942 to September 1944. I sur- 
rendered to the Allies on October 19, 1944. On or about August 
10, 1939, the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Serv- 
ice, Heydrich, personally ordered me to simulate an attack on 
the radio station near Gleiwitz, near the Polish border, and to 
make it appear that the attacking force consisted of Poles. 
Heydrich said: ‘Actual proof of these attacks by the Poles was 
needed for the foreign press as well as for German propaganda 
purposes.’ I was directed to go to Gleiwitz with five or six Se- 
curity Service men and wait there until I received a code word 
from Heydrich indicating that the attack should take place. My 
instructions were to seize the radio station and hold it long 
enough to let a Polish-speaking German, put at my disposal, 
make a speech in Polish over the radio. Heydrich told me that 
an appeal was to be made to the Poles calling on them to unite 
and crush the Germans because the hour of history had struck. 
He also said that he was expecting Germany to attack Poland in 
a few days. I went to Gleiwitz and waited a fortnight, after 
which I asked permission to return to Berlin but was told to 
stay on. Between August 25 and 31 I went to see Heinrich Mul- 
ler, head of the Gestapo, who was then nearby at Oppeln (Opo- 
le). In my presence Muller discussed with a man named Mehl- 
horn plans for another border incident in which it should be 
made to appear that Polish soldiers were attacking German 
troops. Germans in the approximate strength of about a compa- 
ny were to be used. Muller stated that he had twelve or thirteen 
condemned criminals who were to be dressed in Polish uniforms 
and left dead on the ground at the scene of the incident to show 
that they had been killed while attacking. For this purpose they 
were to be given fatal injections by a doctor employed by Hey- 
drich. They were then also to be given gunshot wounds. After 
the raid members of the press and other persons were to be 


41 



taken to the scene of the incident. Subsequently a police report 
was to be prepared. Muller told me that he had been ordered by 
Heydrich to hand over one of these condemned criminals for 
the Gleiwitz affair. The condemned men had been given the 
code-name of ‘Canned Goods.’ 

“The incident at Gleiwitz in which I took part was carried 
out on the evening preceding the attack on Poland. As I recall, 
war broke out on September 1, 1939. At noon on August 31, 
I received by telephone from Heydrich the code word for the 
attack which was to take place at 8 p.m. that evening. Heydrich 
said: ‘In order to carry out this attack, report to Muller for 
Canned Goods.’ I did this and gave Muller instructions to deliver 
the man near the radio station. I received this man and had him 
laid in the entrance to the station. He was alive but he was 
completely unconscious. I tried to open his eyes. I could not 
recognize by his eyes that he was alive, only by his breathing. 
I did not see the shot wounds, but a lot of blood was smeared 
across his face. He was in civilian clothes. 

“We seized the radio station as ordered, broadcast a speech 
of 3-4 minutes, fired some pistol shots and left.” 

Here is the sworn affidavit of Jozef Grzimka on January 27, 
1949, during his trial before the District Court in Warsaw: 

“On August 15, 1949, 1 was summoned by telegram on Himm- 
ler’s orders and had to report to his office. The telegram said 
I had been called up to strengthen the police reserves. In Himm- 
ler’s office in Berlin I found a great number of people who 
came from Upper Silesia. All of us belonged to the Allgemeine 
SS. From Berlin we were taken to the SS school in Bernau. We 
were not allowed to leave the building, write letters, or com- 
municate with the outside world. We were told that we had 
been called up to reinforce the frontier police on the Polish 
border. In the school we underwent the same training as in the 
infantry. One day we were ordered to sign a paper saying that 
everything we learnt would be kept secret and that betrayal 


42 



of it would be punished by the death not only of the traitor but 
also of his whole family up to the third line of relationship. 

“On or about August 18 some high official from the German 
Foreign Ministry arrived together with several military men 
and civilians. They examined us to see if we knew Polish, 
ordered us to sing Polish songs and translate from German into 
Polish. I knew a little Polish, my comrades much more. The next 
day we were dressed in Polish uniforms, some of us being given 
the green tunics that Polish youth wore. We had to return the 
uniforms immediately after the fitting. On August 21st we were 
loaded into closed lorries and taken to Slaweczyce near the 
Polish border. We remained there till August 23. On the evening 
of the same day we were taken to the border itself between By- 
tom and Gliwice. We were wearing Polish uniforms over which 
we had been told to put German uniforms with the insignia 
removed. When we were already in the woods on the border the 
civilians whom we had seen in Bernau arrived and conferred. 
We could not hear what they were saying; we only caught the 
word ‘treachery.’ A few minutes later we were taken back to 
Slaweczyce where we remained in closed barracks until August 
31. On the evening of this day we were again told to put on our 
Polish uniforms with German uniforms over them and taken 
by lorry to the border, to the town of Hohenlinden *, between 
By tom and Gliwice. We remained in the woods until dusk when 
we were led out into the fields. In the field Oberfiihrer SS 
Trummler, who was our commanding officer, gave the order: 
‘Speak only in Polish, take off your German uniforms, sing 
Polish songs, curse the Germans in Polish and fire in the air.’ 
I am repeating his words exactly. Then Trummler ordered us 
to move in the direction of the customs post in Hohenlinden and 
enter it. In the post there was only the Kompaniefiihrer whom 
we knew from Bernau but no officials. Trummler ordered us 
to demolish all the installations of the building, smash the 

* See footnote on p. 40. 


43 



windows, break up the furniture, etc. We carried out this order. 
Then we were told to re-assemble in the field from which wc 
had started and on the way fire shots in the air. In front of the 
customs post we saw a few bodies in Polish uniforms. I touched 
one — he was absolutely stiff. Everyone answered at roll call 
which meant that the bodies in Polish uniforms had not belong- 
ed to our group. I learned later that the bodies had been brought 
by some unknown persons by lorry. We were taken back to 
Slawgczyce where our uniforms were taken away and were 
again ordered to sign a pledge of secrecy. The attack on Hohen- 
linden was commanded by SS Sturmbannfiihrer Trummler... 

‘‘During the raid there was absolute quiet on the Polish side. 
I did not realize I was taking part in a provocation until the 
German radio announced that the Poles had destroyed a customs 
post in Hohenlinden and the radio station in Gliwice, and that 
the Reich was as a result declaring war on Poland...” 

Grzimka’s story of the incident in Hohenlinden is backed up 
by the evidence of Dr. Hans Trummler which he gave under 
oath in Dachau on January 13, 1947, to Stefan Jaskiewicz and 
Marian Wgclewicz representing the Polish Military Mission for 
the Investigation of War Crimes: 

“At the beginning of August 1939 I was posted for service in 
Hohenlinden with other senior SS officers. This planned action 
was regarded as a 'State secret.’ All of us, Fiihrer, Unterfuhrer 
or private, had twice to sign a pledge before we started the 
action, that we would keep it secret under penalty of death and 
the expulsion of our whole families. More detailed briefing on 
the Hohenlinden affair was given me by Muller or his staff 
officers. 

"The orders I received went more or less as follows: 

“In the area of Hohenlinden-Pless various raids had been 
carried out by Polish customs officers or irregulars on German 
territory. As a result the German police had been reinforced. 
A raid should be carried out on the customs post south of 
Hohenlinden which should be made to look the work of Polish 


44 



customs officers or irregulars. The German customs officers 
would repel this attack and capture some Polish customs offi- 
cers (fitted out with uniforms by us). Further preparations along 
these lines were being made in the fencing school in Bemau. 
For this purpose, from among the Allgemeine SS members in 
Upper Silesia, one man speaking Polish fluently had been taken 
from each town allegedly to reinforce the police and ordered 
to report to the school in Bemau. The object of the order was 
in no case made known to the SS men. These SS men had to 
sign the pledge I have already mentioned and from then on 
were considered as ‘bound by secrecy.’ 

“In my opinion, this order, which might have led to special 
incidents, must have been issued by high or even the highest 
officials. Since frontier relations were involved it must be pre- 
sumed that the Foreign Ministry had been informed of these 
matters. 

“About August 20, 1939, my unit was transferred to Slawe- 
czyce. The job was to be carried out on August 23. However, 
action was postponed to a later date — perhaps for political or 
military reasons. Because of the necessity for secrecy my men 
were specially watched. 

“The job was carried out on the night of August 31-September 
1. There was no direct clash with Polish troops or civilians. At 
the scene I passed on an order drawn up in Berlin by the 
RSHA. This was its contents: 

‘1. From the start only Polish is to be spoken. On the left of 
the road leading to the Polish frontier you must make a noise 
and be visible. Anti-German songs and the Polish national 
anthem is to be sung. Then you are to curse the Germans in 
Polish and shout things like “Long live Poland,” “Down with 
Germany.” While you are doing this you are to keep firing into 
the air. 

‘2. When you reach the German customs post, which lies on 
the left of the road, you are to destroy it completely and take 
away the books. The German clerks found outside the customs 


45 



post are to have been shot by Poles. In the post itself there will 
be one civilian whom you are to leave alone. 

“During this whole affair, I was at first on the road out of 
Hohenlinden, and later I went to the customs office. When 
I went inside, the main points of the order had been carried out. 
A number of bodies in Polish uniforms were lying around. I did 
not know anything about how they had been brought there. 
They were loaded onto a lorry and taken away. On our way 
back to Slaweczyce we saw German troops moving forward. 
The entire operation was directed by Generalleutnant Muller, 
head of Section IV of the RSHA (Gestapo), together with cer- 
tain other members of his department dressed in civilian clothes. 
Muller made a personal report in Berlin on the carrying out 
of this order... 

“Generalleutnant Muller and the other commanding officers 
involved in this action later received military decorations... 

“I would like to add that while I was in Hohenlinden and 
carrying out my orders, that is from August 25 to September 1, 
there were no raids on German territory by Polish officials, 
troops or police.” 

So much for the border incidents which, according to the 
leaders of the Reich, had been committed by Poland and were 
supposed to be the immediate occasion of the German attack in 
1939. There can be no disputing the facts in this sworn evidence: 
they were to be the first link in the chain of crimes that was 
to follow. 



Crimes Against Polish Troops 


Modern warfare has long ceased to bear any resemblance to 
any kind of single combat. It is highly mechanized and the 
human element is confined to the control of death-dealing ma- 
chinery. There is a great deal of space separating the belliger- 
ents; often they cannot even see each other. Thus the enemy 
is not only the soldier on the other side but every living being 
on the territory to be captured and against which the attack 
is directed. In these conditions war has become depersonalized. 
It is now a gigantic machinery of destruction set in motion by 
an invisible hand. Perhaps it is this depersonalization that has 
led to the disappearance of humanity in modern wars, even 
though the rules and customs of international law on the con- 
duct of war are in principle still binding. In these circumstances 
it is obvious that modern warfare had no room for the old 
chivalrous attitudes. Even so, as soon as one of the sides aban- 
dons the fight and lays down its arms in surrender, the imper- 
sonal nature of the fighting disappears. The machines stop and 
human beings take their place. It is then that there is not only 
an opportunity but even a duty for at least a human, if not 
chivalrous, handling of the defeated enemy. 

Having said this, it is worth examining how the Wehrmacht 
treated the defeated Polish troops during the 1939 campaign. 

Nazi propaganda, which at the end of 1939 and beginning of 
1940 did all it could to justify the aggression in its accounts of 


47 



the fighting in Pol a' d specially emphasized that the Reich had 
tried to carry on me war in a most humanitarian fashion. To 
back up these claims, one of the propaganda publications of the 
period * quoted some instruction to the fighting troops which, 
it maintained, had been issued to every German soldier on 
specially printed sheets. This was confirmed by Field Marshal 
Milch in his testimony at Nuremberg.** These instructions were 
a digest of the basic principles of war, as recognized by interna- 
tional law and practice, in relation to an enemy that has surren- 
dered and the population and property of a defeated country. 
They included the following rules: 

"The German soldier will fight in a chivalrous spirit for the 
victory of his country. Cruelty and needless destruction impair 
his honour. 

“It is forbidden to kill either a soldier who has surrendered 
or a partisan or a spy. They are to suffer a just sentence passed 
by a court of law. 

“It is forbidden to maltreat or abuse a prisoner of war. 

“The Red Cross is inviolable. The wounded are to be treated 
considerately.” 

Were these instructions followed as far as Polish soldiers were 
concerned? Seemingly, yes. Everyone knows that thousands of 
Polish soldiers and officers were taken prisoner, sent to Germany 
and, in accordance with international conventions, placed in 
prisoner-of-war camps. It must also be admitted that their 
treatment in these camps on the whole was correct.*** Their 
fate was idyllic compared to the tragedy of the victims of the 
concentration camps. But it is precisely this difference that 

• IS Tape Weltgcschehen — Dcr Feldzug pepen Polen, Dr. E. R. Un- 
derstate. Berlin, 1940. 

** The Nuremberg Trial, Vol. IX. pp. 100—101. 

••• The murder of the British R.A.F. officers who escaped from Sazan 
P.O.W. camp and of the Polish officers who escaped from the DOssel 
camp and almost all of whom were recaptured on Reich territory are 
among the few exceptions. 


48 








gives weight to the belief that it was not feelings of humanity, 
still less chivalry, that were the motives behind the more or 
less decent treatment of prisoners of war. It was simply that the 
Nazis could not violate the principles of international law in 
too glaring or wholesale a manner, especially since the war was 
still on and they had to remember that German soldiers might 
also find themselves in the hands of the enemy. But it was 
different in cases where they could safely break these rules. 
Then the Wehrmacht succeeded in completely forgetting these 
noble-sounding instructions. 

Proof of this are the incidents of torture and butchery of 
Polish soldiers in 1939, especially just before the completion 
of military operations. 

The findings of the Main Commission for the Investigation 
of Nazi Crimes in Poland * show that atrocities of this kind were 
committed by units of the Wehrmacht throughout Poland and 
almost always on the orders of an officer. The number of these 
crimes, the impunity with which they were committed, and the 
lack of any steps on the part of the army command to prevent 
similar occurrences are proof enough that they were not merely 
the sporadic, irresponsible outbursts of individual commanders 
but part of a routine approved, if not deliberately organized, 
by the Nazi authorities of violation of international law and 
practice, designed to eliminate the greatest possible number of 
Poles. 

These crimes have been testified to by many hundreds of 
witnesses, many of whom were intended victirtis and escaped 
only by accident. A few extracts from their testimony will serve 
as both examples and evidence of these atrocities. 

First there is the story of Jan Marek of Lodygowice, county 

* This investigation was undertaken in 1949 in connection with the 
proceedings by the British authorities against Nazi generals Rundstedt, 
Manstein and Strauss. All three served in the 1939 Polish campaign. 
The British prosecutor, Mr. Elwyn Jones, was specially sent to Poland 
to take part in the investigation. 


4 


49 



of Zywiec, as told in court on June 17, 1949.* An infantryman 
in the 4th Podhale Rifle Corps, he had been taken prisoner in 
the vicinity of Przemysl. Together with more than a hundred 
other prisoners he was marched off in the direction of Droho- 
bycz. On the way the escort of German soldiers ordered a halt 
in the village of Urycz. They were locked into a barn where 
they were told they would spend the night. 

After the doors were bolted Marek, who with some of the 
others was in the loft, through a crack in the roof saw the Ger- 
man soldiers on the orders of the officer in charge take two cans 
of petrol from a car and pour their contents over the walls of 
the bam. As soon as they had done this they opened fire on the 
bairn and threw some grenades. The building immediately went 
up in flames. The prisoners, trying to escape, tore out a board 
from one of the walls but, once outside, ran into the bullets and 
grenades. Marek managed to jump over a fence into a field but 
was hit in the shoulder and fell. He forced himself up but had 
hardly gone a few paces before a grenade was thrown at him. 
He was again wounded, this time in the face. He fell and lost 
consciousness. This saved him. The Germans must have presum- 
ed that he was dead. During the night he was found at the scene 
of the massacre by the village bailiff and the following day 
taken by cart to the hospital in Schodnice. To this day Marek’s 
face is disfigured. 

His evidence is corroborated by that of Antoni Dobija from 
Godziszka, county of Biala Krakowska, another of the very 
few Poles who by pure chance survived the Urycz massacre, 
in which about 100 prisoners of war were either burnt to death 
or killed by bullets and grenades. Neither Marek nor Dobija 
knew or could even imagine a reason for this mass execution. 

However, it did at times happen that some pretext was sought 
to justify the slaughter of Polish prisoners. One such case was 

• Records concerning Manstein and others in the files of the Main 
Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland. 


50 



described in court by Tadeusz Nowak and Jozef Nycz of Cracow 
who served in the 20th Infantry Corps.* They testified that 
after the final routing of the corps near Tomaszow in the Lublin 
area they had been taken prisoner on the morning of September 
20, near the village of Wielki Majdan. They were put in a group 
of over 40 prisoners. All of them were unarmed. They were 
drawn up near a barn on the outskirts of the village. Suddenly 
the Germans began to beat the soldiers in the front rank with 
rifle butts shouting something in German which the Poles did 
not understand. After a while an officer approached; he held 
a revolver in his hand and shouted an order. The prisoners’ first 
thought was that he was ordering his men to stop; after a minute 
they understood that he was accusing the Poles of having killed 
a German soldier, whose corpse had been found near the barn, 
and that he was ordering his men to shoot them. The Germans 
moved back and opened fire. Nowak was unhit but fell to the 
ground. On top of him fell two of his wounded comrades, one of 
them praying aloud. One of the Germans must have heard this, 
because Nowak heard a cry of Der lebt noch just above his 
head, followed by a shot. The prayer was cut off. Nowak could 
hear the wounded being finished off. After a certain time when 
the Germans had left, Nowak hid in the barn. When it grew dark 
he slipped in amongst a group of prisoners being marched down 
the road. 

The evidence of the other witness to survive this massacre, 
Jozef Nycz, agrees with that of Nowak. 

The bodies of the victims were buried on the spot. In April 
1940 they were exhumed on the initiative of the Polish Red 
Cross to be taken to a cemetery. The mass grave contained the 
corpses of 42 Polish soldiers. 

From the evidence given by the inhabitants of the village it 
appears that on the night of September 19—20 a German patrol 
had encountered withdrawing Polish units. The German soldier, 

* Ibid. 


51 



whose body was found near the barn, probably died in this 
encounter. In reprisal for his death, the Wehrmacht murdered 
over forty unarmed Polish soldiers who had probably not even 
been involved in the previous night’s engagement. 

Sometimes prisoners were shot merely because the officer in 
command of a unit which captured them did not want to waste 
time taking them to an assembly point. This was particularly 
so when there was only a single prisoner or a small group. 

Stanislaw Gozdur, a village leader from Lipsko in Warsaw 
Province, was an eye-witness of such an execution.* On the 
morning of September 8, 1939, Gozdur went into his garden and 
saw a group of fourteen unarmed Polish soldiers on the road 
about a 100 yards away. The Poles were kneeling by the side 
of the road; on the other side was a small detachment of Ger- 
mans with their rifles aimed at the Poles. Beside them an offi- 
cer was loudly cursing the Poles, yelling that he did not know 
what to do with them because he certainly did not intend to 
cross the Vistula with them. The witness who understood Ger- 
man fluently could hear the officer’s every word in the quiet 
of the early morning. The order was given to shoot the prisoners, 
immediately followed by a burst of rifle-fire. Shortly afterwards 
the Germans marched off. All but one of the Poles were dead. 
After being given medical care for a few days by the local 
inhabitants, he made his way to his native Kielce. 

A much bigger massacre of Polish Prisoners was carried out 
in the transit camp at Zambrow on the night of September 
13—14. The evidence in this case has come from several eye- 
witnesses among the prisoners and from some of the local 
inhabitants*. 

This temporary camp had been set up on the parade-ground 
of former barracks. Over 4,000 prisoners had been placed there 
surrounded by a cordon of guards. During the night the square 
was encircled by lorries with their headlights on. On the other 

* Ibid. 


52 



side of the cordon were some battered old railway wagons in 
which the horses had been placed. In the evening the prisoners 
were ordered to lie down and threatened that anyone who tried 
to get up would be shot. During the night the horses in the 
dilapidated cars panicked presumably by the glare of the 
headlights, broke through the cordon into the camp trampling 
the Poles on the ground. The prisoners jumped up to get out of 
the way of the horses. During the pandemonium the guards 
opened fire from machine-guns mounted on the lorries. This 
led to still greater confusion and uproar. When the firing 
stopped, the prisoners were forbidden to move. Until' dawn the 
square was loud with the groans of the dying and wounded. In 
the morning those who could walk were marched off in the 
direction of Lomza. The bodies of the rest were buried in a pit 
dug on the square. None of the witnesses can say exactly how 
many were killed but put the number approximately at 200. 

The incidents described are far from being the only crimes 
committed by the Wehrmacht on Polish prisoners of war 
in 1939. The number disclosed during investigations is far 
higher. There can be no doubt either that there are many other 
such cases which have never and will never come to light. 
These involved primarily single prisoners or small groups, 
especially if the murders were committed far from human 
habitation. 

Further indisputable evidence of these atrocities is contained 
in authentic photographs, found in the possession of captured 
German soldiers or among their abandoned kit. These pictures, 
taken as “souvenirs” — a widespread habit among the troops 
of the Nazi armies — usually contain no clue as to place, date 
or victims. This, in fact, makes them even more eloquent and 
convincing as evidence. 

As far as numbers are concerned the worst atrocity was that 
committed near the village of Ciepieldw, county of Ilza, when 
300 prisoners were slaughtered. This crime was uncovered 
during an investigation conducted on the spot but it was 


53 



impossible to establish the details. The execution was carried 
out in the woods far from the village. The villagers knew about 
it but there were no eye-witnesses. The denouement was found 
in the least expected of quarters. In August 1950 the then 
existing Polish Consulate in Munich sent on to the Polish Mili- 
tary Mission for the Investigation of War Crimes in Berlin an 
anonymous package containing two typewritten pages in Ger- 
man, undated and unsigned, and five photographs. It is best to 
quote this document in full: 

"OUR FIRST ENGAGEMENT IN POLAND.” 

“Recent events do not seem to bode any good. The day before 
yesterday our senior sergeant riding in a slov-moving car shot 
with his ‘eight’ (an 8 calibre revolver) a 60- or 70-year-old 
peasant who was trying to lead his cow to the barn presumably 
to stop it from wandering around the road. He was very proud 
of this feat of marksmanship performed, it must be remembered, 
at a distance of nearly 40 feet from a moving car. I simply 
cannot understand this. It is only a few weeks since he got 
married and was so full of gentle affection for his wife and 
considerable with his in-laws. Perhaps he only wanted to hit 
the cow? Unfortunately pride stopped him from keeping the 
feat of marksmanship quiet, so that cannot be the explanation. 
Besides, as an experienced senior sergeant who wants to become 
an officer, he would not during the advance risk shooting a cow 
which could not then be handed over for the army’s needs. 
Would not this be stealing ‘army property?’ Since the column 
halted just after the shot, we were able to see a grizzled old 
woman throw herself weeping on the corpse. Presumably our 
“hero” would have shot the old woman too had the car not 
stopped just then, which would naturally have detracted from 
his ‘shooting reputation.’ 

“Up to that day we had still not taken part in any fighting. 
Only on the left and right sides of the road could be seen 
wounded Polish soldiers trailing back in single file with their 
hands above their heads. Senior Rifleman K. shot one of these 


54 



wounded soldiers from a moving lorry simply because he had 
raised only one hand. It could be seen quite plainly that the 
soldier’s right arm was hanging helplessly, since his whole arm 
had been crushed. Senior Rifleman K. did this out of pure 
shooting fever. I saw him aim his rifle and called out disgusted- 
ly ‘Oberjager!’ He lowered the rifle. Ten seconds later just as 
I had turned my head back I heard a shot. The Pole fell. K. 
could not, however, deny that it was his shot. How do I explain 
this? These were the heroic exploits of our company before 
even a single shot had been fired in our direction. 

“Then in the woods around Ciepielow, not far from Zwolen, 
the 11th company of our battalion found itself in the front of 
the column. We were just behind them. I heard the firing of 
machine-guns. The troops in front were under fire. Out! I was 
filled with some sort of panic. I did not even want to be brave — 
that’s no good — if I did not know why. Confusion, orders; 
single file, the 10th company on the left of the road. I followed 
the others. I felt in danger, now I might be killed as punishment 
for my illogical thinking and this removed all feelings of fear. 
I took cover with all the others but I could not see any Poles. 
A rifleman with a machine-gun was blazing away furiously. 
There was the hum of ricochets. Now I realized that the Poles 
were also shooting. Soon there was a whistle just by my right 
ear. Then Captain Lewinsky fell — the first. Shot in the top of 
the head. So there were men in the trees. I admired the courage 
of these snipers in the trees. One of them was detected. The 
medical orderly shot him with his pistol. Suddenly we broke 
ranks. Everyone started running through the wood like mad- 
men. An hour later, we all assembled in the road. The company 
had 14 dead including Captain Lewinsky. The commander of 
the regiment, Colonel Wessel (from Kassel) with a monocle in 
his eye was fuming. What nerve! Trying to hold us up and 
shooting my Lewinsky. It did not matter to him that these were 
soldiers. He claimed that he was dealing with partisans even 
though each of the 300 Polish prisoners was in uniform. They 


55 



were forced to take off their tunics. Yes, now they looked more 
like partisans. Then their braces were cut, apparently to prevent 
them from running away. 

“Next the prisoners were forced to march down the road in 
single file. Where were they being taken? 

“Back to the wagons which would shortly take them to the 
prisoners’ collection point? 

“Five minutes later, I heard the crash of a dozen German 
machine-guns. I ran towards them and a hundred yards back I 
saw the 300 Polish prisoners shot and lying in the ditch by the 
side of the road. I risked taking two photographs and then one 
of the motorized riflemen, who had carried out this exploit on 
Colonel Wessel’s orders, placed himself proudly in front of my 
camera.” 

Here the typewritten account, which seems to be an extract 
from a diary, breaks off. The enclosed photographs are un- 
doubtedly the work of the author. On the back of each can be 
made out a somewhat faded explanation in pencil. 

There can be no doubts as to the truth of the events described 
by the unknown writer; in any case the photographs back 
up his description. The secret of the crime committed years 
ago by the Wehrmacht in the woods near Ciepielow had at last 
been revealed. 



Nazi Camps in Poland 


At the beginning of 1933, almost as soon as Hitler came to 
power, the first concentration camps were set up in Germany. 
In time a whole complex system of camps grew from them and 
during the war reached mammoth dimensions. Within the Reich 
and the occupied countries there were about a thousand of 
them, excluding the P.O.W. camps ( Stalag and Oflag ). 

The first camps were the brain child of Hermann Goring. 
In 1933 he was Premier of Prussia and also head of the State 
Secret Police ( Geheimes Staatspolizeiamt) which he had estab- 
lished. The camps set up on his orders had as their object the 
elimination of political opponents of the Nazi regime. The ma- 
jority of the prisoners behind their barbed wire were, therefore. 
Communists, true democrats and other real or suspected ene- 
mies of the Nazis. The example of Prussia was soon followed 
by other parts of the Reich, led by Bavaria, where in April 1933 
the later notorious Dachau camp was set up. It was to become 
the prototype of all the future concentration camps. 

In 1936 Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfiihrer of the SS, was 
appointed Chief of the State Police for all Germany. This was 
a very important event in the development of the concentra- 
tion camp system. In the hands of Himmler, as Chief of Ger- 
man Police and head of the SS — that is, a party organization 
outside the police and already numbering several hundred 
thousand members, was gathered control over a huge apparatus 


57 



whose job was to protect Nazi rule against all “enemies of the 
state" within the Reich. This personal concentration of power 
was followed by a rapid penetration of the SS into the police. 
SS members joined the police and police officials with the right 
“qualifications” were inducted into the SS. Soon the concentra- 
tion camps came under the sole control of the SS and became 
an instrument of unprecedented police terror. A far-flung 
network of agents and informers of the State Secret Police, or 
Gestapo, which had grown out of the embryonic body founded 
by Goring in 1933, was constantly on the lookout for new 
“enemies of the state,” who would then be sent to the concen- 
tration camps by the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA, one 
of 12 Main Offices at SS headquarters). 

By now the camps were not confined only to “political 
offenders;” other “undesirables” found their way there; habit- 
ual criminals, “asocial elements” such as prostitutes, beggars 
and vagrants without regular jobs, homosexuals, members of 
the religious sect of Bible Students, etc. But the overwhelming 
majority were still the political prisoners. 

Despite the rigorous regime, the heavy work, the bad treat- 
ment, the punishments, and the physical and moral terror, the 
camps at this time were still in principle only places of isola- 
tion, designed to cut the inmates off from the rest of the 
community but not for their extermination. With the outbreak 
of war, however, the function of the camps in Germany radi- 
cally changed. The camps set up in the occupied areas, partic- 
ularly in Poland, had functions that went far beyond those 
of the pre-war Nazi camps. 

One of the objects of the armed drive of the Reich to the 
East was, as everyone knows, the acquisition of Lebensraum. 
These areas were to be unoccupied, cleared of their former 
inhabitants. Obviously the simplest way of achieving this was 
direct physical extermination. There are quite explicit refer- 
ences to this in a speech made by Hitler on August 22, 1939, at 


58 



his residence in Obersaltzberg during a meeting of top Wehr- 
macht officers: 

“Our strength lies in our speed and our ruthlessness. Genghis 
Khan caused the death of millions of women and children 
deliberately and without any qualms. But history sees him 
only as a great founder of a state. I do not care what the 
helpless civilization of Western Europe thinks about me. I have 
issued orders to shoot anyone who dares utter even one word of 
criticism of the principle that the object of war is, not to reach 
some given line, but physically to destroy the enemy. That is 
why I have prepared, for the moment only in the East, my 
‘Death’s Head’ formations with orders to kill without pity or 
mercy all men, women and children of Polish descent or lan- 
guage. Only in this way can we obtain the living space we 
need...”* 

These directives found their systematic expression in the 
methods of war used against the Poles. The bombing of open 
cities and towns, burning of villages and even tiny hamlets, the 
strafing of helpless civilians, the mass executions of captured 
Polish prisoners, the slaughter on the slightest pretext, or none 
at all, of peaceful and unarmed men and women cost the Polish 
nation many thousands of lives. But the physical destruction of 
a nation of many millions during a few weeks’ fighting was 
impossible, even using the most barbaric methods of total war. 
So the Nazis, with their sights firmly on their target, from the 
first days of the occupation began a merciless and systematic 
campaign of biological destruction of the Poles. The whole of 
Nazi policy in Poland was geared to these objectives: in theory — 
as can be seen from official documents, in the form of plans, 
memorandums, directives and comments — and in practice, as 
is shown by what actually happened. 

The difference between the occupation in Poland and in the 
countries of Western Europe is that in the latter the Nazis 

* Document L — 003 of the I.M.T. 


59 



sought to crush only their active or suspectedly active oppo- 
nents. In Poland, however, every man, woman and even child 
was regarded as an enemy merely, or rather precisely, because 
they were Poles. 

One of the means used to reach the targets set by Nazi policy 
with regard to the Poles were the concentration camps. Before 
the war, the camps in the Reich had been an instrument of 
political terror. In Poland they were to become an instrument 
of extermination of hundreds of thousands of Poles as well 
as a medium of slave labour. These two functions, though 
seemingly contradictory, could be combined very efficiently. 
The driving of the prisoners to the extreme limits of their 
strength, together with the appalling conditions in which they 
lived and the monstrously barbaric treatment which they 
suffered, inevitably led to their complete physical and psycho- 
logical exhaustion and so to their “natural’’ death. These were 
functions fulfilled by all the Nazi concentration camps during 
the war both in Germany and the occupied countries. But while 
in Western Europe it was only those who were active opponents 
of the Nazi regime, or suspected as such, that were sent to the 
camps, in Poland everyone was a candidate because he belonged 
to a nation on whom sentence had been passed. 

The basic job of the concentration camp was to drive the 
prisoners to a “natural” death after first having exploited them 
as slave labour. This does not alter the fact that a certain num- 
ber died “unnaturally” by execution or were murdered during 
the so-called “selection parades” because they were of no 
further use as labour material. 

The death camps had a different function. This consisted of 
the mass slaughter of human beings and the destruction of their 
corpses. Permanent camps of this type existed only in Poland 
and were designed exclusively for the killing of European 
Jewry. These camps gassed to death millions of Jews from Po- 
land, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Holland, Greece, 
Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. 


60 



There were four major concentration camps in Poland: 
Oswi^cim-Brzezinka (Auschwitz-Birkenau), Majdanek, Sztuto- 
wo (Stutthof) and Rogoznica (Gross-Rosen). Auschwitz was the 
biggest of all Nazi concentration camps. All of these camps 
were a separate unit in the vast concentration camp system; 
in turn they were made up of the parent camp, which included 
the headquarters of the administration, and several branch 
camps — called “sub-camps” — which came under it organiza- 
tionally and administratively ( Nebenlager , Zweiglager, Aussen- 
lager, Arbeitslager). These were set up near factories, mines, 
quarries, farms, etc., which were some distance from the parent 
camp and where the labour of the prisoners could be exploited. 
The four big camps controlled a total of 160 sub-camps through- 
out Poland. In each of them the number of prisoners varied 
from several hundred to several thousand. As far as living con- 
ditions, work, and treatment were concerned, there was no 
difference between the sub-camps and the parent camps. 

Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek were at the same time 
death camps, equipped with special installations for mass kill- 
ing and destruction of corpses: gas chambers and cremato- 
riums. Four other death camps, which confided themselves 
solely to killing Jews, were set up at Belzec and Sobibor in 
Lublin Province, at Chelmno (Culmhof) in Poznan Province and 
in Treblinka (Treblinka II) near Warsaw. At Auschwitz and 
Majdanek, the victims were killed with a chemical mixture 
called Cyclone B which, when dropped into the gas chamber, 
gave off hydrogen cyanide. In the other camps the victims were 
usually killed with carbon monoxide. This was introduced into 
the gas chamber through pipes connected to special engines 
which produced the gas. There were also cases when carbon 
dioxide was used instead; this was introduced into the chamber 
by connecting cylinders of compressed gas to the water pipes. 
In Chelmno specially converted lorries were used as gas cham- 
bers. They looked like prison wagons covered with green sheet 
metal, except that there were no openings apart from the doors 


61 



at the rear. These were carefully sealed and bolted from the 
outside. The end of the exhaust pipe opened into the inside. 
When the engine started, the fumes of the exhaust filled this 
mobile gas chamber and suffocated the victims. 

The death camps were not really camps in the strict sense of 
the word. They were exclusively centres of mass murder. The 
victims sent there were liquidated almost on arrival, or sever- 
al hours later. Thus, although they were included in the over- 
all system of camps run by the SS, they deserve to be treated 
separately. 

Apart from the concentration camps and death camps there 
were also a number of work camps in Poland. These can be 
divided into three categories: ordinary, penal, and for Jews. 

The ordinary work camps, to which were taken (usually 
compulsorily) people registered at employment offices and 
temporarily without a job, were designed to provide an organ- 
ized labour force. The workers placed in these camps received 
far better treatment, of course, than the prisoners in penal 
work camps, and they were paid. They were used for the 
heaviest jobs, such as river regulation, road-building, land 
improvement work, etc. Their wages were very low, while 
living conditions in the camp were no better than the minimum 
necessary to keep them physically fit for heavy labour. The 
camps were supervised by the German Labour Front ( Deutsche 
Arbeitsfront — DAF). The people in the camps worked for var- 
ious German firms carrying out work in the area. The period 
spent in these camps was not fixed and the workers were 
usually allowed to go home once a particular job was com- 
pleted. 

Camps of this kind began to be organized in 1940. Their 
number reached its peak in 1941—1942. From 1943 on, as the 
Reich’s fortunes on the eastern front slumped, the number of 
ordinary work camps gradually declined. This is to be attri- 
buted, on the one hand, to the cutting of local investments and, 
on the other, to the more determined and frequent dodging of 


62 



compulsory labour by the Poles. By now the Polish resistance 
movement was increasingly active; the militant underground 
organizations were going into action and partisan units were 
stepping up their activities. Important, too, was the fact that the 
German war industry was drawing more and more on the slave 
labour of the concentration camps where the number of prison- 
ers was constantly growing. 

The second category of work camp was the penal camp. What- 
ever its official name, whether penal camp ( Straflager ), penal 
work camp ( Strafarbeitslager ), forced labour camp (Zwangsar- 
beitslager) or reform work camp ( Arbeitserziehungslager ), the 
object of these camps was similar to that of the concentration 
camps: to exploit the prisoner as manpower even if.it meant 
working him to death. 

An important difference, however, was that detention in 
a concentration camp was indefinite; in a work camp detention 
was for a strictly determined period. In principle, the period 
was one to three months. But in practice, particularly from 
1941 onwards, this period was often prolonged even several 
times over. This was especially frequent in the larger camps — 
for example in the penal camp of Treblinka I (not to be con- 
fused with the nearby death camp of Treblinka II). There were 
also cases in which prisoners in these camps were sent on to 
concentration camps after expiry of their sentence. 

A special variation of the penal camp was the work camp for 
Jews ( Judenlager — Julag). Although they were not in principle 
penal camps, the inhuman treatment of the prisoners and the 
intense exploitation of their labour often produced conditions 
no better than in the concentration camps. These camps can be 
dated from the middle of 1941, that is, when Hitler took the 
decision on the “final solution of the Jewish problem” which 
sealed the fate of all the Jews in the areas under Nazi rule. 
The fate of those detained in the Judenlager was also fore- 
judged. Those who did not die in the camps would end up in the 
gas chambers. 


63 



Thus, the whole system of Nazi camps in Poland — both con- 
centration and forced labour — had one joint aim: to destroy 
the prisoners after having extracted the maximum benefit from 
their labour. The concentration camps did this on a massive 
scale, gathering behind their wire tens of thousands, or, as in 
the case of Auschwitz-Birkenau, over a hundred thousand pris- 
oners. The forced labour camps were smaller in size; they held 
only several dozen or hundred to several thousand prisoners. 
But because of their considerable number they played an im- 
portant role as an instrument in the implementation of the 
extermination policy. 

Unfortunately there are no German statistics providing the 
number of camps in Poland nor the number of inmates. These 
documents were probably destroyed, since no such material 
was found in the Nazi archives which fell into the hands of the 
Allied occupation authorities. From investigations conducted 
by the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes 
in Poland a few months after the war, in 1945, it appears that 
there were about 120 various forced labour camps and about 
130 work camps for Jews in Poland. Out of this total in about 
100 there was an average of 1000—5000 prisoners; in the re- 
maining 140, about 100—600. The average total capacity of all 
these camps was about 300,000. It must be remembered, how- 
ever, that there was a constant turnover in prisoners; some died, 
some were transferred, some were released. Assuming that 
throughout the five years of the occupation there was only one 
complete rotation of inmates, then the total number of people 
who passed through these camps would be about 600,000. In 
fact, the figure is much higher. 

Because of the absence of any official lists of prisoners, it 
may be assumed on the basis of rough calculations that the vast 
majority of the inmates of Jewish work camps were either 
worked to death, exterminated when the camps were liquidat- 
ed, or transferred to death camps. The same fate, of course, met 
Jews in the non-Jewish camps, if the camp authorities discov- 


64 






Chained prisoners in the “Liban” penal work camp near Cracow 


Unloading of victims destined for the gas chamber on the platform at Brze- 
zinka (Birkenau). In the background, on either side of the tracks, can be seen 
the chimneys of two of the crematoriums 



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Btt. Btt (Lokd), B 41, Bfp 14, 15, 16 , 17, 22, M 6, Vt 11, Yfc X (9), 

nuf 9 , 21 , 21 ‘H, 50 n. 


ftol;?.! , Uondarattgo alt Unaladlara. 

Otlit-V y , AuTbowrihron bio 6, Kii 1945 




Zur i ofOrd«runf ron Uaoiadlom cue cca Eolofc aaoh Tr •blinks Ttxfcahran 
mt dor ^ 

* * In X olfundaa Folxrplap; 

H5chrt£«eobv.f 45 Minds utbroaah. 1 17 

r.b Varoooau Oat * .1 30 

Jiaftt stm 600 t 

Ju-lste&ft 

bio Taohono toohqa nnob Pgbrplan dor EBP Oppslnj 
Tachenctootmi (on 16*26) nb 17. 54 Ik ?lan fig 90 759 B 




Potrlkrru 

Skiorniowioe 

Prnozkon 

Varecbciu Oat Pbf 
Vrjpaoh .n Out Ybf 
Abro Antonlnov 
Bosbortow 
ibn Ziolonkn Bp 
Tina so a 
Kalkinin 
Troblinka 


20,50/21*1 4 in Plan Ifc 90 749 B 
25,4B/ 0.03 la Plan Be 90 749 B 
1.41/ 2.05 In Plan Be 90 055 B 
2.51/ 5.06 la &ool>P?lan 
5*11 in Sandorplsn 
5.17 in 3ondorplnn 
9.24/ 3*28 In Bandsrplan 

3.40 in Plan Bf 97 509 B 
4,20/ 4.22 in Plan Bf 91 907 B 
9.*9/ 6.20 ir. Candsrplan 
C. 2 C . 


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Bv Taobsaatochaa bia P* triton 
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ft\L£&ll£UL v pain bln Taobam.iochau 
BY Ttaiaacaloahnn bln PstxiVca 
Bf PatrtknA bla b^.wLsn Oct Ibf 
Bf Uoraebon Oat Tbf bla *dr«ibllAPn 


Time-table for special rail transports of “rcsettlers” from the Reich to 
the extermination camp in Treblinka (first page) 


B# Bowondoro Anordnu n/rcn 


1. ) Die Sondorsug-Jfunaern und die Vorkohrotago wordon Joirell ; ^ 

Tola g roan bekonntgogebon, Tie Fahrplanaaoudaung 567 1st V 
sub Fahrplnnwecheel aufsubowohrbn. ' 

2. ) Joder Sondorsug befgr dort mt uq 2000 Pe rson exu Bf Trobllnk' 

noldot ouch Elcgang Jodos Sondorsuges die AnsablvEor.be- 
fOrderton Forsonen sofort ochrlftlioh on GedobBfp 17* 

3. ) Zu/tblldungs 1 odor 2 Pereononw^c^, la Ubrl^n ’C^ogon* 

Ichflcn und Last Jades Sonderzugco wlrd in Jx 
telogroiLx boknnntgogobon. Der Vagonsug 1st n~: 
der Entln lung duroh Osl Ecreohaa naoh v/urooV 
sur Entscuohung su leiton und dann ru lgwe: t 
• die Pero anonwagon mind Gedob 2fp 4 In Boat uid 3 

no Idea. 

4#) Zuiv:r,ttuAr:i >0.9 

5. ) Bol UnregelafiBlgkolton 1st cofort das Fahrplnnbttro dor Go<l4 

ouf 1 255 # 481 odor 1256 ru ▼orstAndigon. 

6. ) Z1 Tsohenstochau und Osl 'Jnxdchnn Ubervnohcn don Zuglauf ij 

a or gen fUr pUnktlicho DurchfUlirung. * 

7*) Ear Dnpfang der Ppln let den rorgoaotrten Ant cu bootatige:, 

0.) Ptir die Bonne hrlcht lgung dor Strecke colt cA die Bootinaun J 
dor ABB Terf 1942/206. 

got# S 0 b a 1 A 

Leglaublgt t 
BJ 



Second page of the time-table 



ered their Jewish blood. Non-Jewish inmates had better chances 
of survival but even here the death rate was staggering. As 
in the concentration camps, this was the result of excessive 
overwork accompanied by a starvation diet and inhuman treat- 
ment. To this must be added catastrophic living conditions and 
the absence of health and hygiene precautions, which were 
responsible for various diseases and typhus epidemics. 

Some idea of the extent of the death rate can be got from the 
findings of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi 
Crimes dealing with the work camp of Treblinka I.* It discov- 
ered mass graves near the camp, containing the remains of 
former inmates. 41 graves were found with at least 6,500 corpses. 
According to witnesses there are other mass graves in a forest 
near the camp, but it has been impossible to find them because 
of the thick undergrowth. It should be emphasized that the 
average number of prisoners in the camp at any one time was 
not much more than a thousand. The camp was in existence 
four years. 

There was one other special category of camp at the beginning 
of the occupation. From October 1939 to the early months of 
1940 there were, mainly in the western parts of Poland what 
were known as “civilian detention camps” ( Zivilinterniertenla - 
ger). The inmates were mainly political and civic leaders of an 
anti-Nazi bias (for instance, people who had taken part in the 
Wielkopolska or Silesian uprisings, active members of the 
Western Union), members of the intelligentsia, teachers, priests, 
etc. A large number of these prisoners were murdered right at 
the beginning of the occupation (for example, in “Fort VII” in 
Poznan). Some were taken to concentration camps in Germany, 
a few were released. This type of camp became superfluous as 
soon as the first concentration camps were set up in Poland. 

• Z. Lukaszkicwicz: “The Labour Camp in Treblinka”, Bulletin of 
the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland, 
vol. Ill, p. 109. 


n 


65 



All these camps, except for the death camps, were designed 
as one of the main instruments in the physical extermination 
of hundreds of thousands of Poles, which was the ultimate 
target of Nazi national policy in Poland. The death camps, in 
which millions of Jews from all over Europe died, were a means 
to the end of Nazi racist policy, which aimed at the complete 
extermination of European Jewry. 



Chelmno Death Camp 


Fourteen kilometres from the small county town of Kolo in 
the province of Poznan lies the village Chelmno. Kolo is on the 
Lodz-Kutno-Poznari railway line and Chelmno is joined to Kolo 
by a narrow-gauge line infrequently used since there is little 
traffic, and still less before the war. In addition there is a con- 
nection with Lodz, 60 kilometres away, by a good though not 
very busy road. The village is picturesquely situated on the 
river Ner; its sole distinction was a small “palace” surrounded 
by a park which belonged to the state. This was, in fact, an old 
two-storey manor house which was once the property of some 
landed gentry. Near the park was a small newly-planted pine 
wood. The palace was unoccupied. Chelmno’s situation off the 
busier lines of communication but relatively near Lodz, the 
second biggest town in Poland, led the Nazis to cast it for a 
very grim role. 

In November 1941, the occupation authorities began some 
mysterious construction work in Chelmno. The park round the 
palace was encircled by a high, impenetrable fence. In the 
grounds which contained an old grain mill as well as the palace 
were built two wooden barracks. At the same time the popula- 
tion of the village was deported, leaving only a few labourers 
to do odd jobs connected with the building. 

At the beginning of December 1941 Jews started arriving in 
Chelmno, brought in small groups from towns in the neigh- 


67 



bourhood such as Kolo, D^bie, Klodawa and SQpolno. Later 
larger transports began to arrive from other towns in the “War- 
ta Country” (Warthegau), mainly from Lodz. 

Thousands of people came to Chelmno, but no one ever left. 
Among the neighbouring villages rumours began to be whisper- 
ed about the mass extermination of the Jews brought to the 
palace in Chelmno. Nothing was said out loud, however, for 
fear of reprisals by the Germans. It was not till the investiga- 
tion carried out in 1945 soon after the end of the war that the 
secret hidden behind the fence round the old park during the 
occupation was revealed. 

During the investigation three witnesses were heard who had 
succeeded in escaping from the camp. They were Michal Pod- 
chlebnik, Mieczyslaw Zurowski and Szymon Srebrnik. Another 
witness was Bruno Israel, a German gendarme, who had served 
in the camp from the middle of 1944 until the end. Testimony 
was also provided by a number of Poles from among the local 
populace who had the opportunity of making certain observa- 
tions during the camp’s existence. 

On the basis of the evidence given, the investigation found 
that Chelmno, called Culmhof by the Nazis, had been a secret 
death camp designed for the extermination of Jews. 

The camp’s main job was to exterminate Jews from the 
“Warta Country” which was part of the western territories 
annexed by the Reich. The camp began operations on Decem- 
ber 8, 1941. By this time Jews had already been moved to 
ghettos formed in Lodz and in a number of smaller towns. But 
in many small towns there were no ghettos; from these came 
the first victims of the Chelmno death camp. 

After liquidating the Jews from towns without a ghetto the 
Germans turned to the Lodz ghetto. At the same time smaller 
ghettos in a number of towns were destroyed and the occupants 
taken to Lodz. This was probably done to allay suspicions, since 
it would have been impossible to conceal transports of Jews 
from more distant towns. 


68 



In January 1942 the shipments from Lodz began. The early 
transports consisted of five thousand gypsies who had been 
placed in the Lodz ghetto, but the later ones were all of Jews. 
The shipment arrived by rail and consisted of about 1000 
people placed in 20—22 passenger wagons. Only one transport 
arrived daily. In Kolo the victims were transferred to the nar- 
row-gauge railway which took them to the station at Powiercie. 
From there they were marched to Zawadki where a mill was 
used as a makeshift shelter for the night. After some time the 
train was extended all the way to Zawadki from where next 
morning they were taken by lorry to Chelmno. None of the 
victims realized that this was his last journey. 

The Germans took only about 150 persons at a time into the 
camp itself. In the courtyard a member of the Sonderkomman- 
do, the special branch of the SS that staffed the camp, reassur- 
ed them that they were going to be sent to work in the East. 
He also told them that they would have to hand over their 
clothes and baggage to be disinfected and go to the bathhouse. 
Then they were led into the palace, where they undressed in 
a room on the first floor and in their underclothes went down- 
stairs where a sign directed them down a corridor to “the 
baths.” At the end of this corridor there was a door. Here the 
Jews were told that they would be taken by van to the baths. 
In front of the door stood a large van with doors at the rear 
and special steps for entering. The victims were hustled down 
the corridor and were bundled into the van with shouts and 
blows. When the last person had entered, the airtight doors 
were shut and the engine started. The van was a mobile gas 
chamber. The outlet of the exhaust was led inside the van 
which had no openings other than the doors. The fumes that 
filled the interior choked and suffocated the victims in a mat- 
ter of minutes. After several minutes, when the screams and 
poundings of the victims had died down, the van drove off to 
the Rzuchowski woods about four kilometres away, where the 
corpses were unloaded. Here any jewellery on the bodies was 


69 



removed and gold teeth pulled out; then they were buried in 
huge pits dug in the wood. All this was carried out by Jewish 
workers in the Waldkommando. From the spring of 1942 they 
took to burning the bodies. At the same time the bodies of 
previous victims were dug up and also burnt. The bodies were 
incinerated in two specially constructed furnaces which were 
destroyed in April 1943 during the first liquidation of the camp. 
The ashes were raked out from the furnaces, and any bits of 
bone that were left were crushed in special pestles. All the 
ashes were either buried or thrown into the Ner River. 

The death camp in Chelmno operated from December 1941 
till the middle of April 1943, when it was liquidated. The palace 
and the furnaces in the wood were blown up, but Sonderkom- 
mando Culmhof stayed behind. Just before the liquidation, in 
March, Chelmno was visited by the Gauleiter of the “Warta 
Country," Artur Greiser. He presented each of the Sonderkom- 
mando members with a bounty of 500 marks and invited them 
to spend their leave on his estate near Poznan. 

In the spring of 1944 the Chelmno camp revived its mission 
of death. Two new furnaces for burning bodies were built in 
the woods. Transports again began to flow in. This time they 
were taken direct by rail to Chelmno. There the victims spent 
the night in the church; in the morning they were taken to the 
wood and, in a temporary barrack, told to undress. The rest of 
the procedure was the same as before, except that the gas van 
had a much shorter journey. The camp was reopened probably 
following the Nazi decision to liquidate the Hungarian Jews as 
part of the “Hungarian Action." In the end, however, the Hun- 
garian transports were exterminated in Auschwitz. In this sec- 
ond period about ten thousand Jews were slaughtered at 
Chelmno. In the autumn of 1944 the camp was destroyed once 
and for all. The barracks were pulled down and the furnaces 
in the wood blown up; almost all traces of the atrocities were 
removed. However, the Sonderkommando Culmhof and several 
dozen Jewish assistant workers remained on the scene. In the 


70 



middle of January the Sonderkommando began to shoot these 
workers. About fifteen were killed, but the rest put up a fight 
and killed two Germans. The Sonderkommando set fire to the 
building in which they were holding out. Only two managed 
to survive, and they were later witnesses in the investigation. 

About 360,000 Jews, mainly from Poland, were murdered in 
Chelmno. The findings of the investigation show that about 
25,000 of the victims came from abroad. 



Treblinka 


In the middle of 1942 the Nazis build a death camp about 
four kilometres from the station of Treblinka on the Siedlce- 
Malkinia line. Situated far from human habitation, this camp 
became the site for the killing of 750,000 Jews. 

The building of the camp, which employed Jews brought 
from neighbouring towns, began in early June, 1942. The area 
marked out for the camp (about 33 acres) was surrounded by 
a barbed wire fence with wooden watch towers at the corners. 
The barbed wire was stuffed with pine branches to shelter the 
camp from outside eyes. Inside the camp there were a number 
of administrative and commissary blocks, quarters for the SS 
personnel, and barracks for the Jewish workers. Inside the wire 
fence there was also a siding connected to the station at Tre- 
blinka. In a separate, relatively small section of the camp were 
the installations used for extermination. 

The first transport of Jews to be exterminated arrived on 
July 23, 1942, and from then on there was a regular stream of 
shipments. The victims were brought by rail. The train was 
halted at Treblinka and the wagons were shunted by relays 
into the siding which could not take more than 20 at a time. 
The Jews were brought in sealed box-cars with often as many 
as 200 persons in each. As a result of the congestion, many of 
the weaker died on the way. On arrival the doors were opened, 
and SS men, waiting on the ramp, dragged out the victims with 


72 



shouts and blows and hustled them into an enclosed space inside 
the camp. Here the men were separated from the women and 
children. The men who were in good physical condition were 
taken away to work in the death camp or in the nearby Treblin- 
ka I. The rest were ordered to strip in order to be taken to the 
baths. The men usually undressed in the open, the women and 
children in one of the barracks. Before undressing they were 
told to hand over their money and valuables, which the Jewish 
workers gathered into special suitcases. After this several dozen 
barbers shaved the women in the barracks. When these prelim- 
inaries were completed, the victims were led off in the direc- 
tion of the gas chambers and manhandled to make them move 
faster. As was said before, the buildings housing the gas cham- 
bers were in a special section of the camp. In the early days of 
the camp there was only one building with two chambers. 
A few months later a second building with ten chambers was 
erected. In the smaller building the chambers were on one side 
of the corridor, in the larger on both sides. The doors to the 
chambers were hermetically closed from the outside. In the 
outside walls were large hatches. The tiled floor sloped towards 
the outside walls. After gassing the hatches were raised and 
the victims pulled out, an operation made easier by the slope 
of the floor. In the ceiling of the chambers were openings 
through which carbon monoxide was introduced by pipes from 
an outbuilding where there were engines producing it. In the 
smaller building the gas chambers were 5X5 metres, in the 
larger — 7 X 7 m. The victims were driven inside with their 
hands raised so as to squeeze in as many as possible. 

Death ensued no more than 15 minutes after the engines 
were started up. The more people packed into the chamber the 
quicker they suffocated. 

To avoid the difficulties that might arise if the arrivals 
realized what was in store for them, efforts were made both 
to dupe them with external appearances and to confuse and 
unnerve them in the hustle and manhandling. 


73 



A sham station was erected on the platform of the siding in 
the camp. The nearby blocks of the camp had signs on the walls 
indicating a waiting room, buffet, ticket office, etc. Bogus indi- 
cators showed them the platform for changing to Bialystok, etc. 
The final stroke of cynicism was a ‘hospital’ situated in the 
administrative block in a small compound surrounded by a high, 
impenetrable fence. The entrance was through a small wooden 
hut with a Red Cross flag over it. Beyond this was a small 
building called the “waiting room’’ in which stood a number 
of plush sofas. Just past the “waiting room” in the courtyard, 
a pit had been dug beside which a SS man from the camp shot 
the victims in the back of the head with a small-calibre pistol. 
The “hospital” was used to liquidate those who were incapable 
of moving fast enough from the ramp to the gas chamber, in 
other words, the sick, the crippled, unattended children, the 
elderly. The Germans had no time to lose with each transport 
since another was waiting at the station in Treblinka. Before 
it could arrive at the siding, the camp had to be cleared up so as 
not to arouse the suspicions of the new arrivals. The maximum 
time that elapsed between the arrival of a batch of victims and 
their gassing was two hours. 

In the early days of the camp the bodies of the victims were 
burned in huge pits inside the camps. These pits had been me- 
chanically dug. In 1943, following a visit by Himmler, the 
corpses were burnt in order to remove all traces of the crime. 
At the same time mechanical diggers were used to exhume the 
corpses in the pits and these too were burnt. The incineration 
was done in the open air, on a sort of mammoth grill made of 
railway tracks resting on a concrete parapet. On top of them 
were laid alternate layers of wood and bodies and the whole 
heap was doused with some inflammable liquid and set alight. 
The ashes were mixed with sand and buried. 

Treblinka was used mainly for killing Jews from Warsaw 
or from the former districts of Warsaw and Radom. But there 
were also Jews from the Bialystok ghetto, Grodno and Wolko- 


74 



wysko. In addition there were transports of German, Austrian, 
Czech, Belgian and Greek Jews; these were brought in passen- 
ger wagons and their baggage in luggage cars. It was principal- 
ly for their benefit that the fictitious station was built on the 
siding in the camp. 

Railway records were discovered which enabled investigators 
to establish the exact date and place of origin of some of the 
transports. The ruins of the camp destroyed by the Nazi 
authorities yielded coins from Poland, the Soviet Union, Ger- 
many, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Belgium, France and 
even America. 

The possessions brought by the victims were confiscated in 
the camp and sent to the Reich. The size of this loot can be 
judged from some railway transport figures that have been 
discovered; these were for a period of three weeks — from 
September 2—21, 1942. They show that in this period 203 wag- 
ons loaded with shoes and clothing of murdered Jews were 
sent to the Reich from Treblinka. Jews who managed to survive 
and worked as labourers in the camp have testified that about 
once every two weeks a large lorry was sent to the Reich car- 
rying suitcases filled with jewellery, banknotes, watches, etc. 
Women’s hair was also sent to the Reich; it was packed in bales. 

On August 2, 1943, a revolt broke out which had been plan- 
ned for some time among the 1,500 Jewish workers in the camp. 
Some of the camp buildings were burnt; over a dozen SS men 
were killed from among the camp personnel and the guards. 
Several hundred prisoners broke out of the camp; some of them 
evaded recapture. 

The Treblinka death camp was liquidated in November 1943. 
The gas chambers and the other buildings that had survived 
the revolt were destroyed. All the records were either taken 
away or burnt. The site of the camp was ploughed over and 
even sown. An attempt was made to settle it with Ukrainians. 
These, however, fled before the advance of the Soviet Army 
in 1944. 


75 



Auschwitz and Genocide 


Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of 
all the Nazi concentration and death camps. Even before the 
end of the war rumours had been filtering through of the 
terrible conditions of existence, the fantastic slave-driving, and 
the barbaric treatment of the inmates who were dying in their 
thousands after a few months in the camp. It was not till after 
the war, however, when the few survivors of the camp returned 
to their native countries, that the whole truth about life, or 
rather death, in this gigantic prison combine became known to 
the world. But it is only what actually happened in the camp 
that is known, especially the martyrdom of its victims. It is 
worth examining what role the camp was to have played in the 
future in the Nazi plans — and certainly would have played had 
the Reich been victorious. 

This camp was built in the first half of 1940 in Zasole, on the 
outskirts of OSwi^cim. The headquarters were in former mili- 
tary barracks. The first transports arrived in June 1940. The 
original orders from the SS central authorities had called for 
the construction of a concentration camp for ten thousand 
inmates. But even before this project had been completed 
orders came from Berlin for further expansion. 

There can be no doubt that the SS leaders intended the camp 
to keep on growing. This is evident from the fact that the 
camp’s administration included a department called the “Cen- 


76 



tral Construction Office of the Waffen SS and Police for 
Auschwitz” ( Zentralbauleitung der Wajfen-SS und Polizei — 
Auschwitz), which came immediately under the SS authorities. 
Its job was to expand the camp in accordance with the plans 
and directives received from Berlin. 

Between the time of its foundation and autumn 1941 the 
camp was extended until it was almost twice its originally 
planned size. At the end of 1941 it held 18,000 prisoners. From 
autumn, 1941, the rate of extension grew rapidly. This was 
connected with the intensification of terror and the undertaking 
of genocide on a mass scale. 

After the attack on the Soviet Union in the middle of 1941, 
Hitler took the decision on the “final solution of the Jewish 
problem” ( Endlosung der Judenfrage). The “solution” meant the 
gradual extermination of all Jews in all the countries coming 
under Nazi occupation. 

This undertaking was entrusted to the SS, which decided that 
the most suitable place in which it could be carried out was 
Poland. Emphasizing the highly confidential nature of this 
decision, Himmler gave Hoess — the Auschwitz Commandant — 
orders to prepare the necessary installations in the camp. 

In October 1941, construction began on the marshy terrain of 
Brzezinka (Birkenau), about 4 kilometres from Auschwitz, of 
a huge new camp, said to be intended for prisoners of war. In 
the surviving fragments of the correspondence between the camp 
administration and the Berlin office there are frequent refer- 
ences to “special treatment” ( Sonderbehandlung ) of prisoners 
which was to be undertaken in the camp under construction. 
This term was of course, a code name concealing mass murder. 

According to the original plans for Birkenau the camp was 
designed to hold 200,000 prisoners; but the site marked out lent 
itself to further considerable extension. 

In January 1942 the first transports of Polish Jews arrived. 
They had come as part of a “special action” (Sonderaktion) and 
were condemned to instant liquidation. In the beginning, Birke- 


77 



nau tried to some extent to conceal the exterminations by mak- 
ing it appear that the Jews who arrived were to be detained for 
some period of time. 

The enormous amount of resources being consumed by the war 
with the Soviet Union entailed a constant raising of output by 
the Nazi war industry and a number of subsidiary branches. As 
a result German industry, with hundreds of thousands of po- 
tential workers inducted into military service, was suffering 
more and more from an acute labour shortage. Himmler’s solu- 
tion was to make available to industry the manpower of the 
concentration camps. At the same time he issued a series of 
orders for the SS and police to provide a more intensive flow 
of prisoners to the concentration camps. 

Some idea of the scale on which the extension of Auschwitz 
was conducted can be had from a few statistics provided by 
authentic records discovered in the camp. In 1942 there was 
a daily average of about 8,000 prisoners employed in the expan- 
sion work ordered by Berlin. In 1943 this figure rose to over 
9,500 prisoners and about 950 non-prisoners. In 1944 the figures 
were 4,000 and 200 respectively. 

As a result of this development the camp at Birkenau had 
three sectors holding a total of 140,000 prisoners. There were 
also plans for a fourth sector to hold 60,000. Preliminary work 
was begun on this, but abandoned with the flight of the Nazis 
in 1945. 

The extermination campaign directed against the Jews took 
on greater and greater dimensions. The transports from the 
occupied countries became larger and more frequent. 

The methods used up to then to gas the victims and burn 
their corpses no longer satisfied the Nazis. After an inspection 
of the camp in the summer of 1942 by Himmler the decision 
was taken to construct huge, mordern-equipped crematoriums 
in Birkenau connected with the gas chambers. The job was 
given to the firm of J. A. Topf und Sohne in Erfurt. 

In the early spring of 1942 two huge twin crematoriums, in 


78 



which it was possible to incinerate about ten thousand bodies 
daily, went into operation. At the same time the parent camp 
had been considerably extended in 1943 and could hold 30,000 
inmates. 

The ultimate purpose of the concentration camp in the Nazi 
system was to bring about the death sooner or later of the pris- 
oners after having first exploited their labour to the maximum. 
The SS leaders did not shrink from selling the slave labour of 
the prisoners to German industrialists, particularly the huge 
concerns and trusts. The capitalists acquired unpaid workers 
whom they could employ as they liked and the SS made a sub- 
stantial sum of money on the sale. 

As an example it is worth quoting some figures contained in 
Nazi documents concerning the employment of prisoners at 
a refinery at Trzebionka, where one of the Auschwitz sub-camps 
was situated. For each day’s work put in by a skilled worker 
provided by the camp, the administration received 6 marks; for 
an unskilled worker — 4 marks. The upkeep of each worker cost 
the camp an estimated 30 pfennigs a day. The prisoner, it needs 
hardly be said, received not a penny. 

Slave labour was employed in factories, mines and timber 
concerns. In Monowice, near Auschwitz, the firm of I. G. Far- 
ben-Industrie built the “Buna” synthetic petrol factory, Krupp 
opened the “Union” detonater works, Deutsche Erd- und Stein- 
werlce started a cement works. Both in the building and the 
operation of these works the manpower was drawn almost exc- 
lusively from the camp. 

A number of enterprises “bought” workers for factories, 
mines and various types of works throughout Upper Silesia. 
Since this was too far from Auschwitz a sub-camp was estab- 
lished near each of these enterprises. In this way, to the parent 
camp and Birkenau was added a network of 30 sub-camps 
scattered over Upper Silesia, all of which made up the huge 
Auschwitz combine. 

Among the Auschwitz records have been found plans for 


79 



building additional crematoriums. On this subject there is also 
correspondence between the Construction Office of the Camp, 
the Central SS authorities and the firm of Topf und Sohne. 

It is noteworthy that, apart from the personnel barracks, the 
crematoriums were the only solidly constructed buildings in the 
whole camp. Their deep foundations and concrete walls show 
that they were intended for long use, undoubtedly longer than 
that required by the campaign to exterminate the Jews. It is of 
course impossible to reconstruct precisely the further extermina- 
tion plans, the more so since they were not initiated by the camp 
authorities but by the leaders of the NSDAP and the govern- 
ment of the Third Reich. 

Among records which the Nazis did not have time to destroy 
there is the comparatively abundant documentation of the Con- 
struction Office; however, this is almost entirely confined to 
work already completed. Only a very small fraction of these 
records — and only an insignificant portion was found — con- 
cerned with future building. From these and the evidence of 
Hoess it appears that there were plans to build one more crema- 
torium (bringing the number up to six). However, this plan was 
later revised. The new crematorium, referred to as VI, appears 
instead in the plans for the extension of the parent camp. It 
was to be a huge crematorium fitted with the latest equipment 
produced by the firm of Topf und Sohne. The number of bodies 
that it could burn daily was to be greater than in either of the 
two large crematoriums in Birkenau. 

Among the records of the Construction Office there is a plan 
for the extension of the parent camp, ratified by the SS central 
authorities and bearing the date of July 7, 1944. According to 
this plan there was to be a new complex of buildings, consisting 
of 45 prison blocks and a number of commissary buildings. Bear- 
ing in mind that the parent camp already contained 28 blocks 
housing 30,000 prisoners, it can be estimated that the extension 
plans would have raised the capacity of the camp to 90,000. 

It is significant that this plan also mentions that the “Union” 


80 



9LUKufctpit5 mtf acintn 

ttcWnla^crn, 



Auschwitz and its branch camps. Photograph of a German chart 






Auschwitz prisoners 



factory, part of the Krupp combine, situated near the parent 
camp, was to be considerably enlarged. Items of correspondence 
and the evidence of Hoess show that the firm of I. G. Farben- 
Industrie, whose “Buna” synthetic petrol factory in Monowice 
employed the slave labour of 25,000 prisoners, also had plans 
for extending its works by introducing the production of syn- 
thetic rubber. It is obvious that the extension of these factories 
was directly connected with the plans to enlarge the camp, which 
was the source of slave labour. 

The extension of the parent camp was to be accompanied by 
extension of Birkenau. As has already been mentioned, prelimi- 
nary work had been started on the building of a fourth sector 
to hold 60,000 prisoners. In the records of the Construction Of- 
fice there are repeated references to further extension. Other 
indications of this project come from provisional sketches of 
the camp, from which it is possible to conclude that the build- 
ing of additional sectors would have raised the capacity of the 
camp to over 300,000 prisoners. 

The land surrounding the camp, about 40 square kilometres 
in area, lying in the fork of the Vistula and its eastern tributary, 
the Sola, was taken over as the “economic area” ( Interessen - 
gebiet) of the camp. The local inhabitants (from 10 villages and 
Zasole, on the outskirts of Oswi^cim) were deported and the 
whole region made the property of the SS. It is typical that the 
area marked out for extension of the camp was to the north and 
west, which was humid and marshy and the least healthy part 
of the large “economic area.” 

On the basis of these documents, all of them from Nazi 
sources, it is possible to say that the Germans planned a consid- 
erable extension of the Auschwitz camp. In the course of a few 
years they intended to expand the parent camp and Brzezinka 
until together they could hold at least 400,000 prisoners. 

During the existence of the concentration camp of Auschwitz 
about 405,000 prisoners were given registration numbers; apart 
from Poles, who were the majority, there were Austrians, Bel- 


e 


SI 



gians, Czechs, Dutchmen, Frenchmen, Germans, Greeks, Hun- 
garians, Russians, Slovaks, Yugoslavs, Gypsies, Jews from almost 
the whole of Europe and even a Chinese, Egyptian and Iranian. 
The conditions of life in the camp and the exploitation of the 
prisoners as slave labour led to the death of over 75 per cent 
of them. 

The concentration camps were one of the vilest weapons used 
by the Nazis; they were employed not only to rid themselves 
of their political opponents but also physically to wipe out the 
greatest possible number of members of the Slav nations, against 
whom they conducted a campaign of genocide. 

The continual additions to the Auschwitz camp and the plans 
for still further extension, taken together with the Nazi plans 
for a “New Order” in eastern Europe show that the Third Reich 
had every intention of making use of this weapon on a still 
wider scale. 



Camps for Soviet Prisoners of War 


Apart from the camps already described there was also a spe- 
cial category of camp in Poland during the occupation for Soviet 
prisoners of war. 

The P.O.W. camps for other nationalities, whether for officers 
(Oflags) or for other ranks (Stalags) came under the German 
military authorities. The treatment of their inmates was basi-* 
cally different from that of prisonsers in the camps run by the 
SS, that is the concentration and penal camps, and the various 
types of forced labour camps. Among the P.O.W. camps the 
exception were those for Soviet prisoners. 

Although these camps also came under the military authori- 
ties, with the administration and guards drawn from the Wehr- 
macht, the treatment of the inmates was very different from 
that of prisoners of other nationalities. Officers and other ranks 
were detained in the same camps which were literally destruc- 
tion camps. The conditions in them as regards quarters, food, 
hygiene, health and medical attention and the treatment of the 
inmates were such that they would lead inevitably to the death, 
within a few months, of the vast majority of the prisoners. It 
was not till 1943 when the military situation of the Reich, partic- 
ularly in the eastern front began to decline, when the enormous 
requirements of this front began to exhaust the German eco- 
nomic potential, and the war industry began to suffer from an 
increasingly acute shortage of manpower, that the situation of 


83 



the Soviet prisoners of war began to show some improvement: 
they were employed in industrial work in the Reich. Conditions 
in the camps themselves also improved a little. But by then 
about two million prisoners had died. This figure was given bv 
SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Konigshaus, from the Reich Main Secu- 
rity Office (RSHA), at a conference of representatives of the 
“action groups” in these camps, held on January 27, 1943, in 
Lublin.* The cause of death of this vast number of Soviet 
prisoners was given by him as typhoid fever and “other epi- 
demics.” This figure, then, covered those who had died a “natu- 
ral death.” It is not hard to imagine what must have been the 
conditions in these camps if they could lead to the death of two 
million persons in the 18 months since the attack on the So- 
viet Union, remembering that they were soldiers who must have 
been young, healthy and fit. 

Between 1945 and 1948 the Main Commission for the Investi- 
gation of Nazi Crimes in Poland investigated over 30 camps for 
Soviet prisoners of war in Poland. These inquiries only included 
camps that had contained more than ten thousand prisoners. In 
the case of the largest camps — Lambinowice (Lamsdorf), 
Ostrow Mazowiecka, and Dublin — the investigations were car- 
ried out jointly with the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission 
for Investigating Nazi Crimes. At the time hardly any traces 
were left of the majority of the camps since they were usually- 
constructed along very makeshift lines. As a result of the mass 
death of the inmates, most of the camps had been liquidated 
and pulled down by the end of 1943 or the beginning of 1944. 

The findings were based on the evidence of witnesses, mainly 
Polish, who had lived near the camps, on contemporary German 
photographs, and on examination of the sites and exhumation 
of mass graves that were usually found in the vicinity of the 
camps. 

* Records of the Appellate Court in Lublin in Case No. K 104/49, 
A. Giese (Main Commission No. 299). 


84 



In the great majority of cases, the exhumations were only 
tentative and intended merely to determine the size of the 
graves and the approximate number of bodies in them. To carry 
out complete exhumations proved too difficult on account of the 
enormous number of victims, and at the same time purposeless 
as there was absolutely no hope of identifying even some of 
them. The bodies had been buried without clothing and without 
any distinguishing marks. 

The findings showed, that the Nazi authorities had tried to 
wipe out all traces of the genocide committed on the Soviet 
prisoners. This was evident from the unusally thorough clearing 
of the site of some of the camps, mainly the larger ones, such as 
Ostrow Mazowiecka, Suchozebry near Siedlce, Beniaminow in 
Warsaw County, Bogusze near Bialystok, etc. The wooden bar- 
racks in which the prisoners lived had been pulled down, the 
fences dismantled and the ground ploughed over. The mass 
graves were so carefully concealed that it proved impossible to 
find many of them, even though witnesses had agreed that they 
existed. To hide them, the Germans had filled them in with 
earth, rolled them and then ploughed them over if they were 
in a field, or covered them with turf if in meadows, fallow fields 
or woods. In several cases the graves were only discovered 
because the local populace had secretly marked the spot during 
the occupation with special signs like slashed trees, pegs stuck 
into the ground, stones, etc. It was also found that the corpses 
were sometimes burned and the ashes buried. 

No German documents were found which would have enabled 
the investigating bodies to determine the number of Soviet pris- 
oners of war who passed through the camps in Poland nor the 
number of those who died. The only records that were found 
were among the Auschwitz documents and concerned the Soviet 
prisoners who were sent there at the end of 1941 to work on the 
building of a P.O.W. camp in Birkenau. From these records it 
emerges that out of about 10,000 registered prisoners of war 
barely 96 were still alive according to a list drawn up on January 


85 



17, 1945. Some of them were murdered during an action to 
liquidate political opponents; but even assuming that 30 per 
cent of them perished in this way, the death rate among the 
Soviet prisoners is still far higher than the average for the rest 
of Auschwitz inmates. 

According to the findings of the Main Commission there were 
about 500,000 bodies in all the mass graves found near the Soviet 
P.O.W. camps. This figure is based on estimates arrived at from 
the test exhumations. The actual figure should undoubtedly be 
placed much higher. It must be remembered that a certain num- 
ber of mass graves have never been found, that some of the 
bodies were burnt, and that the investigations did not take in 
a number of smaller camps in which a fairly large number of 
prisoners also died. 

From the findings it emerged that though there might have 
been certain differences between individual camps as far as 
quarters or kind of work done were concerned, in principle the 
general treatment meted out in them was the same. The system 
aimed at destroying the greatest possible number of prisoners 
by driving them to a “natural” death. The first stage towards 
this goal was the condition under which these prisoners were 
transported. They were brought in sealed cattle cars, crammed 
to bursting point. The journey to their destination was particu- 
larly slow, sometimes taking 2-3 days. Throughout, the wagons 
were never opened. The prisoners were given no food or water. 
Their natural functions had to be performed in the sealed wag- 
ons. Under these conditions, especially in the heat of summer 
or the cold of winter, ten to twenty people died in each wagon. 

In the camps the prisoners were detained mainly in tempora- 
ry wooden barracks without floors and with leaky roofs. In 
winter they were cold and damp since there was no heating. 
When it rained or thawed the uncovered floors were full of mud 
and puddles. 

There were cases when the prisoners were put in a “camp” 
which consisted only of an empty site surrounded by a barbed- 


80 



wire fence and watch towers. On arrival the prisoners them- 
selves had to build makeshift shelters as protection against cold, 
rain and snow. 

There was a similar situation in one of the largest of the 
camps: Lambinowice (Lamsdorf) near Opole (Oppeln). In 1939 
a camp had been constructed here for Polish prisoners; in 1940 
prisoners of other nationalities were brought. In the autumn of 
1941 the first transport of Soviet prisoners arrived and a separate 
camp was set up for them. There were no quarters for the 
prisoners in this camp. Using only basins and spoons they had 
to dig themselves holes which they then covered over with straw 
and earth. Two to three people lived in each of these holes. 
Frequently they collapsed, for there were no planks or wood 
to reinforce the roofing. It was not till 1942 that wooden bar- 
racks with concrete flooring were built, but even these were 
unheated. The official name of this camp was Stalag 344. 

The quarters were no better in the other large camp, Stalag 
307, which was set up in the old castle of Dublin on the borders 
of the provinces of Warsaw and Lublin. The prisoners were 
housed in the old dungeons which were unlighted, damp and 
unheated. This was one of the biggest camps. Up to 1942 over 
100,000 prisoners had been brought here. After this, the trans- 
ports ceased and in the middle of 1943 there were only several 
thousand left in the camp. Some had been murdered during the 
liquidation campaign of political opponents, a very small num- 
ber had been sent to forced labour in the Reich, and the rest 
had died of hunger and disease. 

Calculations based on the test exhumations of mass graves 
show that over 80,000 died in this camp. Some idea of the size 
of this charnel-house can be conveyed by a description of the 
largest of the mass graves. This was an enormous pit dug in 
front of the castle. It was about 6 metres deep and about 7,000 
square metres in area. In the winter of 1941/42 this pit had been 
filled with bodies and additional graves had to be dug elsewhere. 

It hardly needs to be said that there was no question of any 


87 



sanitary or medical facilities in camps with such primitive quar- 
ters. They had no drains and usually no running water. On 
arrival in the camp part of the uniforms of the prisoners would 
be taken away and in exchange they would be given tattered 
clothing stripped from their dead predecessors. Leather foot- 
wear would also be confiscated and replaced with wooden clogs. 
Because of the difficulties with the water supply the prisoners 
lived in conditions of incredible filth. They were issued no extra 
underwear, and lack of soap and water made it impossible to 
wash what they were wearing when they arrived. They had to 
sleep on bare boards since straw was not always provided. Mat- 
tresses and blankets were never even considered. 

Theoretically there was a hospital in every camp. In practice 
the “hospital” was a pure travesty. In Lambinowice, for exam- 
ple, about 1,500 patients were housed in 20-odd small rooms in 
a wooden barrack. In each room there were about 40-50 persons 
in double- or triple-tier bunks with two or even three to each 
bunk. There were no bedclothes, only paper mattresses stuffed 
with shavings that were never changed. There was no qualified 
medical attention. The patients received no medicines and their 
food was no different from the usual camp diet. Obviously, 
a “hospital” of this sort was in no condition to fulfil its funda- 
mental function, the healing of the sick. It is not surprising that 
the death rate was astronomical. 

The main cause of disease and death in the camps was hunger. 
Under the orders issued by the Army General Staff (OKH) on 
August 6, 1941,* a four-weeks’ ration for each Soviet prisoner 
was to consist of: 6 kilograms of bread, 400 grams of meat, 440 
grams of fats, and 600 grams of sugar. It has to be added that 
these products did not contain their full food values, the bread 
had only 50 per cent pure rye, the rest being worthless addi- 
tions such as flour made from wood or chestnuts. The “meat” 

* Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military 
Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1947, p. 350. Document USSR — 349, 225-D. 


88 



was mainly bones. As for sugar, the prisoners usually did not 
receive their ration at all. Even if these rations had consisted 
of full-value food products and each prisoner had received his 
full ration, their calory content would still have been so low 
that death would have had to ensue after a few weeks of such 
a diet. According to the norms set out in the Wehrmacht order, 
the daily ration of a Soviet prisoner consisted of 215 grams of 
bread ( Russenbrot ), which contained only 50 per cent full-value 
rye, about 14 grams of meat, about 16 grams of fats, and about 
21.5 grams of sugar. The calory value of this diet comes to barely 
515 calories. Actually, it was even smaller, for the prisoners 
did not receive the full rations to which they were entitled. 
To realize just how serious the undernourishment of the Soviet 
prisoners was, it is worth remembering that a man working 
normally requires a minimum of 3,600 calories a day to keep 
his body in a state of normal fitness. The Soviet prisoners who 
did not work, received barely one-seventh of this minimum, 
those who worked, about one-fifth. It is not surprising that they 
died off like flies. Here is a description given by Rudolf Hoess. 
the Auschwitz Commandant, of the Soviet prisoners sent to him 
in autumn 1941 to build the P.O.W. camp in Birkenau. 

“They were brought from the P.O.W. camp in Lambinowice, 
Upper Silesia, in a state of complete exhaustion. They had arriv- 
ed in Lambinowice after a several weeks’ march. On the way 
they had received practically no food; during the breaks in the 
march they had been led into the nearest field and there ate 
anything that could be eaten. In Lambinowice, I was told, there 
were about 200,000 Soviet prisoners of war. They lived mostly 
in dugouts built by themselves. Their diet was quite inadequate 
and in-egular. They had to do their own cooking in the dugouts. 
Most of them ‘gobbled’ up — you could hardly call it eating — 
their ration raw... 

“It was with these prisoners, who were often incapable of 
keeping on their feet, that I was supposed to build a P.O.W. 
camp in Birkenau. According to the orders of the Reichsfuhrer 


89 



SS only such Soviet prisoners as were particularly strong and 
suitable for work were to be brought to Auschwitz. The officers 
in charge of the escort said they had picked the best human 
material among the masses of prisoners at their disposal.*.. 

“For some time, I employed about 5,000 Russians almost every 
day on unloading wagons of turnips. The whole railway line 
was crammed; piles of turnips were lying on the tracks and we 
could do nothing about it. The Russians were in no state to do 
anything. They walked aimlessly around in circles, or hid in 
some safe hole where they could swallow anything that could 
be eaten, or looked for some quiet spot where they could lie 
down and die in peace... 

“Out of a total of over 10,000 Soviet prisoners of war who 
were to be the main labour force in the construction of the 
P.O.W. camp at Birkenau only several hundred were still alive 
in 1942.”* 

This starving of Soviet prisoners was far from being merely 
the result of a food shortage; it was the logical outcome of a 
deliberate system aimed at wiping out the maximum number 
of Soviet citizens. This is evident from the universally known 
fact that Poles were forbidden to give food to Soviet prisoners; 
anyone who broke this ban was liable to a severe penalty that 
could include being shot on the spot. 

Probably the most authoritative document describing the fate 
of Soviet prisoners is a letter sent by Rosenberg, then Minister 
for the Occupied Territories, to Keitel, head of the Army Gen- 
eral Staff, on February 28, 1942. This letter deals with the 
whole question of prisoners of war. Below are quoted the most 
eloquent paragraphs: 

“The fate of the Soviet prisoners in Germany is, however, 
a tragedy of enormous proportions. Out of 3,600,000 prisoners 
there are today barely several hundred fully capable of work. 

* Kommandant in Auschwitz, Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen von 
Rudolf Hoess. Deutsche Verlags-Ansialt Stuttgart, 1958, p. 102 //. 


90 



The majority of them have either starved or died as a result 
of bad climatic conditions. Thousands have died of typhus... 
However, in the majority of cases the camp commandants have 
forbidden the civilian population to give food to the prisoners 
who have been sentenced to death by starvation. Indeed, in many 
cases when the prisoners were unable to keep up on the march 
because of hunger and exhaustion they were shot in full view 
of the horrified population and their bodies abandoned. In many 
camps no effort has been made to provide quarters for the 
prisoners. Rain or snow, they have been lying out in the open. 
They were not even supplied with tools with which they could 
have dug themselves holes in the ground or dugouts. Systematic 
delousing of the prisoners in the camps and of the camps them- 
selves has been expressly neglected. ‘The more of these prisoners 
that die, the better for us is the sort of thing that is being 
said.” * 

This treatment of Soviet prisoners and the feeling that “the 
more die, the better” was not the result of personal vindictive- 
ness on the part if individual camp commandants, it was part 
of a planned system imposed by the highest authorities of the 
Reich. 

Proof of this is a confidential memorandum from the Army 
General Staff, September 8, 1941, and signed by General Rei- 
necke; to this there is added an enclosure containing a secret 
order on the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war in all P.O.W. 
camps. The order which bears the same date as the memoran- 
dum includes the following: 

“Bolshevism is the mortal enemy of National Socialist Ger- 
many. For the first time the German soldier is faced by an 
adversary trained not only from the military point of view, but 
also politically, in the subversive sense of Bolshevism. The 
struggle against National Socialism has entered his blood. He 

* Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military 
Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1947, Document 081-PS, pp. 156 ff. 


91 



carries it on using every available means of sabotage, subver- 
sive propaganda, arson and murder. As a result the Bolshevik 
soldier has lost all right to being treated as a legitimate soldier 
according to the principles of the Geneva Convention... 

“Disobedience, active or passive resistance must be imme- 
diately and totally crushed with the use of arms (bayonets, rifle 
butts, firearms). The regulations on the use of arms by the 
Wehrmacht are only in part binding since it is assumed that 
they are applied in conditions of general calm... Anyone who in 
carrying out an order fails to use, or is too gentle in his use 
of arms, is liable to punishment. Escaping prisoners are to be 
shot immediately without being first challenged to halt. It is 
forbidden to shoot for purposes of intimidation... The use of 
arms against a Soviet prisoner is, as a rule, to be regarded as 
complying with the law... Steps are to be taken to prevent any 
contacts between the prisoners and civilians. This rule is to be 
observed especially in the occupied territories.”* 

From this it is apparent that the intense discrimination suffer- 
ed by the Soviet prisoners of war had been ordered by the Army 
General Staff. The inspiration presumably came from the 
leadership of the Nazi Party. This is borne out by the political 
and ideological character of the introduction and by the fact 
that the order was sent to all Gauleiters and Kreisleiters by 
Bormann, head of the NSDAP Central Office, that is the su- 
preme organizational body in the Party. The object was 
obviously to encourage the local Party apparatus to make sure 
that these orders were strictly carried out. 

It is, of course, difficult to say what was the real reason for 
this discrimination: the hatred of the Nazis for the Communist 
ideology and their fear that it would be spread by captured 
Soviet troops, or the desire rapidly to liquidate the largest pos- 
sible number of citizens of the Soviet Union, particularly the 
Russians, which would have fitted in with the Nazi plans for 

* Ibid. 


92 



future “order” of Eastern Europe. Probably it was the second 
of these aims that inspired these general directives on the treat- 
ment of Soviet prisoners since there were other special instruc- 
tions, already in force, concerning the elimination of “politically 
hostile elements” among the Soviet prisoners. 

Order No. 8 ( Einsatzbefehl No. 8), issued by Heydrich on July 
17, 1941, was supplemented by three enclosures. Two of them 
contain detailed instructions for the “Action Commandos” 
(Einsatzkommandos) of the Security Police and Security Service 
posted in all the P.O.W. camps for Soviet troops. 

In enclosure No. 1 there are instructions for combing out all 
civilians and “suspect” persons in these camps. 

“The Wehrmacht must immediately rid itself of all those 
elements among the prisoners of war who are to be regarded as 
sowers of Bolshevism. The peculiar conditions of the eastern 
campaign require special measures which are to be applied on 
your own responsibility, without bureaucratic and administra- 
tive delays. 

“While previous regulations and orders concerning prisoners 
of war were exclusively concerned with military aims, the reali- 
zation of political aims is now to be sought, in order to protect 
the German nation from Bolshevik agitators and to get a firm 
grip from the start on the occupied territory.”* 

Further on the instruction contains orders to split the prison- 
ers in the camps into soldiers and civilians and to carry out 
a political screening. The screening is to be the responsibility of 
members of the Einsatzkommandos. 

Enclosure No. 2 discusses in detail the manner in which the 
screening is to be carried out in order to find the politically 
“suspect” elements. The “Action Commandos” were told not to 
begin the operation until they had collected all the evidence 
necessary. They were to draw not only their own observations 

* Trial, No. 9, document of the prosecution, vol. 1, p. 84, document 
No. 3414. 


93 



and findings but also use information given them by the camp 
commandants. 

Further on the instruction says: 

“Above all you must uncover all important State and Party 
officials, particularly professional revolutionaries ( Berufsrevo - 
lutionare), Comintern officials, all responsible party officials 
of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and its apparatus 
at the Central Committee, District Committee and Regional 
Committee level, all People’s Commissars and their deputies, 
all former Political Commissars of the Red Army, persons 
occupying leading positions in central institutions and local 
state administration, and executive positions in economic life, 
Soviet intellectuals, all Jews, all persons who are found to be 
agitators or fanatical Communists.”* 

The leader of the camp Einsatzkommandos was to send every 
week a list of the persons, screened according to these directives, 
to the Reich Security Office which would then decide on further 
action. As a rule, the RSHA ordered their liquidation; in other 
words, they were shot. The instructions expressly forbade the 
executions to be carried out in or near the camp. If a camp in 
the Government General was situated near the old Soviet bor- 
der, the execution was to be carried out in the territory of the 
Soviet Union. Order No. 9 issued a few days later, on July 21, 
1941, said that the executions had to be carried out in the near- 
est concentration camp, though, of course, they were to be kept 
secret. It was on the basis of this order that in the autumn of 
1941 several hundred “politically suspect” Soviet prisoners 
were liquidated in Block 11 at Auschwitz; this was also the first 
time that Cyclone B, a gas previously used as an insecticide, 
was employed on human beings. 

These orders and instructions might lead one to suppose that 
once the camps had been cleared of “politically dangerous” 

* Trial, No. 9, document of the prosecution, vol. 1 p. 84 document 
NO 3414 


94 



I 


elements, the rest of the prisoners would be treated in some 
human fashion. Actual practice is far from bearing out any such 
ideas. All orders, regulations and instructions regarding the 
treatment of Soviet prisoners remained in force up to the end 
of the war, although from 1944 they in fact lapsed because of 
the war situation. The full barbarism and illegality of this treat- 
ment can be judged from the fact that it even aroused the 
misgivings of the top military leaders in Germany. For example, 
Admiral Canaris, head of German Intelligence, wrote to General 
Keitel, head of the Army General Staff, that the Secret order 
put out by General Reinecke on November 8, 1941, violated the 
principles of international law. To this letter Keitel merely 
added a characteristic note, dated November 23, 1941: “these 
objections spring from military notions of conducting war in a 
chivalrous spirit. We are concerned with destroying an ideology. 
As a result, I approve and endorse the orders that have been 
issued.” * 

Keitel was, of course, referring to the Communist ideology. 

The fate of the Soviet prisoners who fell into German hands 
had been decided by the Nazi leaders even before the war had 
begun. Nazism had sentenced them to death, and the sentence 
was systematically carried out on the prisoners in the camps 
in Poland. 


* Trial of the Major War Criminals, Nuremberg, 1948, vol. XXII, 
p. 535. 



Extermination of the Jews 


One of the tasks set itself by Nazi Germany in its plans for 
the New Order in Europe to follow the victorious war, was the 
total removal of Jews from the areas which would come under 
its political influence, and, of course, from the territories which 
were to become part of the future “Great Reich.” At first, the 
details of how this task was to be carried out were vague. Before 
the outbreak of the war some of the Nazi leaders were still 
entertaining schemes for the forced emigration of European 
Jews to Madagascar. This idea re-appeared in the early days of 
the war. It was mentioned by Himmler, for instance, in a report 
dated May 15, 1940, and entitled "Some Comments on the Treat- 
ment of Foreign Nationals in the East.”* 

“It is my belief that the possibility of a mass migration of 
Jews to Africa or some other colony means that I shall live to 
see the total extinction of the idea of Jews." 

Still more explicit was the statement made by Governor 
General Hans Frank at a session of departmental chiefs of his 
"Government" on July 12, 1940.** 

“I also attach great importance to the Fuhrer’s decision taken 
at my suggestion that there will be no more transports of Jews 

• Einige Cedanken iiber die Behandlung der Fremdvolkischen ini 
Osten (see footnote on page 30.) 

•• Hans Frank’s Diary. Session of Departmental Chiefs 1039 — 40. 


96 





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Deportation of Jews from Plorisk in 1940 




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First page of a handwritten note by Rudolf Ilocss, Commandant of Ausch- 
witz, concerning the final solution of the Jewish problem 



to the Government General. Proceeding on the principles of 
general policy, I would like to add that it is planned to trans- 
port the whole Jewish nation from the German Reich, the Gen- 
eral Government and the Protectorate to some African or 
American colony as soon as possible after the conclusion of 
peace. Madagascar, which France will cede for this purpose, is 
the place envisaged. An area of 500,000 sq. km. there will be 
enough space for several million Jews. I have made efforts to 
enable the Jews from the Government General also to take part 
in this useful enterprise of building themselves a new life in 
a new country.” 

Dr. Schon, head of the Resettlement Section at the Office of 
the Governor of Warsaw, also, referred to this project in his 
report on the Warsaw ghetto* made on January 20, 1941. 

Schemes of this nature began to appear feasible after the fall 
of France in 1940, since this presented the Reich with the chance 
of using the French colonies in Africa as Jewish resettlement 
areas. This would, of course, require time and adequate prepara- 
tion, and so the practical realization of this plan could only 
take place after the Nazis had won the war. 

Although the actual way in which the Jews would be removed 
from Europe had not been established, the Reich authorities 
applied themselves to the “Jewish problem” in Poland almost 
from the first day of the occupation. On September 21, 1939, 
SS Gruppenfiihrer Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Secu- 
rity Office (RSHA) sent a circular letter ( Schnellbrief ) to the 
leaders of all the Security Police “action groups” ( Einsatzgrup - 
pen) in which he told them that, regardless of the “ultimate 
purpose” which the Third Reich wished to attain through the 
solution of the Jewish problem, they would have to carry out 
certain preliminary stages of the plan which would lead to the 
required ends. Heydrich did not say what this “ultimate pur- 

* Record of the proceedings in the case of J. Biihler at Nuremberg. 
Vol. 88 p. 265. 


97 



pose” was and what it involved. However, he stressed that the 
first basic task of the administrative authorities would be to 
concentrate all the Jews scattered over the occupied territories 
in larger urban centres. This ushered in the ghetto system. At 
first they were formed in small towns in the provinces; later 
the inhabitants would be moved to the largest town in each 
district. This was how the huge ghetto in Warsaw and a number 
of large ghettos in Cracow, Lublin, Czestochowa, etc., were 
created. In the areas annexed by the Reich, there was the large 
Lodz ghetto. 

The formal basis for establishing ghettos, known officially 
as “Jewish Residential Districts,” was provided by Frank’s 
instructions of September 13, 1940, restricting free choice of 
place of residence and stay in the Government General. In prac- 
tice, however, the first ghettos had been set up much earlier 
on the strength of regulations made by the local occupation 
authorities; for instance, in Piotrkow a ghetto had been estab- 
lished in October 1939, and in Lowicz and several other small 
towns in the spring of 1940.* 

At present there is not enough evidence to justify saying with 
complete certainty whether these projects to expel the Jews 
from Europe were seriously expected to be put into effect or 
whether they were merely used to camouflage an already exist- 
ing plan for the total extermination of the Jews. It is probable 
that deportation was the original idea, though the organization 
of closed ghettos and the creation of living, residential and 
sanitary conditions in them that led to a massive mortality rate 
among their inhabitants, undoubtedly shows that the Nazi 
leaders tried by every means to eliminate the greatest possible 
number of Jews by “natural death.” 

The attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 and Nazi suc- 

* Dr. H. W. Schwender, the Kreishauptmann (County Chief) in L.o- 
wicz, by an order of May 7, 1940, set up ghettos in Lowicz and Glowno 
for Jew's living in the Lowicz area. 


98 



cesses on the eastern front in the early stages of the war seem 
to a large degree to have influenced the taking of the decision 
on the “final solution of the Jewish problem.” 

On July 31, 1941, Goring wrote to Heydrich asking him to 
draw up a plan for the complete solution of the “Jewish prob- 
lem” in Nazi-occupied areas. In January 1942, an interdepart- 
mental conference was held in Berlin, at which Heydrich de- 
scribed a plan drawn up by him dealing with the future of about 
11 million Jews in the whole of Europe, including countries yet 
to be occupied by the Nazis. The Jewish problem was to be 
solved by a gradual deportation of all Jews to the East. Not 
a single word was said about extermination. It seems beyond 
doubt, however, that the extermination of all Jews living in 
Nazi-ruled areas had already been decided. The only thing 
missing was a solution of the technical aspects of this problem. 

What this deportation was to involve in practice and how the 
word itself actually meant extermination, was stated clearly in 
the affidavit of Rudolf Hoess, the former Commandant of Ausch- 
witz, which he made during his examination in 1946 by the 
Cracow District Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes. 
The relevant part of this lengthy testimony goes as follows:* 

“In the summer of 1941 — I cannot give you the exact date 
now — I was suddenly summoned to Berlin to see the Reichs- 
fiihrer SS. Breaking his usual habit, Himmler told me the fol- 
lowing without the assistance of an A.D.C.: 

“ ‘The Fiihrer has given the order for the final solution of 
the Jewish problem. We, the SS, are to carry out this order. 
The places of destruction in the East are not suitable for an 
action planned on a vast scale. Therefore, I have chosen Ausch- 
witz for this purpose, both on account of its easy access by rail 

* Record of the case of Rudolf Hoess. Vol. XXI, p. 160; Wspomnienia 
Rudolfa Hoessa (Memoirs of Rudolf Hoess), Wydawnictwo Prawnicze, 
1956, p. 181; Kommandant in Auschwitz — Autobiographische Aufzcich- 
nungen von Rudolf Hoess, p. 153. 


99 



and because it is situated in a region that can easily be isolated 
and concealed. My original intention was to entrust this job to 
one of the higher SS officers, but I have decided against this 
since I want to avoid the problems that would arise from the 
splitting up of powers. I am now handing this job over to you. 
It will be an ardous and difficult test for you, and will require 
your complete dedication without regard to whatever difficul- 
ties arise. You will be briefed on the details by Sturmbannfuhrer 
Eichmann of the RSHA, who will 'be seeing you soon. The 
departments concerned will be informed by me in due time. 

“ ‘You are to keep this order in the strictest secrecy even 
with respect to your superiors. As soon as you have talked with 
Eichmann, you are to send me the plans for the installations. 
The Jews are the age-old enemies of the German people and 
must be exterminated. All the Jews who fall into our hands 
will, without exception, be killed during this war. If we do not 
succeed now in destroying Jewry biologically, then the Jews 
will one day destroy the German people.’ ” 

Sentence had now been passed on the Jews. In the autumn 
of 1941 the first extermination camps were set up; they had 
installations for the mass killing of human beings with cai'bon 
monoxide. These were the camps in Belzec and Chelmno. The 
same autumn Hoess built two provisional gas chambers in 
Auschwitz-Birkenau, using Cyclone B for killing the victims. 
In the first half of 1942 camps were established in Sobibor, 
Treblinka, and Majdanek. 



The Warsaw Ghetto 


The first plans for a Jewish district in Warsaw had been 
drawn up in February 1940. This project, however, was with- 
drawn as a result of a different scheme proposed by SS 
Obergruppenfiihrer Friedrich Wilhelm Kruger, the Higher SS 
and Police Leader in the East ( Hoherer SS und Polizeifiihrer 
Ost) in Cracow. Under this, there would be a single, large-scale 
concentration of Jews in the eastern part of the Government 
General in Lublin Province. This scheme, however, also fell 
through perhaps because of Himmler’s plan to settle these lands 
with Germans in order to establish a closely-knit German bul- 
wark in the East. 

This revived the original scheme to set up a ghetto in War- 
saw. It was planned to form two Jewish districts: one in the 
suburb of Praga on the right bank of the Vistula, the other in 
a suburb on the left bank. In the end, the area selected for the 
ghetto was the south-eastern part of the city on the left bank. 
This was the district inhabited by the majority of the Jewish 
community in Warsaw. 

Preparations began in the summer of 1940; formally, the 
Jewish Residential District in Warsaw came into being on Octo- 
ber 2, 1940, with the order of Ludwig Fischer, Governor of the 
Warsaw District.* On June 17, 1941, Fischer issued another 

* Amtsblalt des Chejs des Distrikts Warschau im Generalgouvernc- 
mcnt, No. 10/1940 p. 145. 


101 



order forbidding the Jews to leave the residential areas marked 
out for them within the District.* An order of November 10, 
1941, made it a capital offence for a Jew to leave his residential 
district. Anyone found sheltering or assisting a Jew was liable 
to the same penalty.** 

The whole preliminary action leading up to the creation of 
a “Jewish Residential District” in Warsaw was conducted with 
a staggering duplicity. The German propaganda machine launch- 
ed a huge publicity campaign to impress the people of Warsaw 
with the Jews’ alleged natural aversion to order, hygiene, etc. 
They were warned to keep away from large groupings of Jews 
because of the danger of lice and other insects, which spread 
disease, especially typhus. 

It must be admitted that at that time there were in fact cases 
of typhoid fever; but they are to be attributed to the rapid de- 
terioration in living conditions, food supplies and hygiene result- 
ing from the occupation and, above all, from the influx of a 
large number of deportees from the area of Poland incorporated 
into the Reich. This state of affairs created an opportunity for 
making the south-eastern part of Warsaw, where the majority 
of the populace was formed by poor Jews, a shut-off area alleg- 
edly in quarantine. 

The next step was a proposal to move the whole Jewish com- 
munity to a separate district under the pretext of protecting the 
health of German troops. After the fall of France a great num- 
ber of various Wehrmacht detachments were being sent to the 
East with a short stopover in Warsaw. Apart from this, the ad- 
ministration also showed its concern for the health of the 
Poles, putting this argument forward too as the reason why it 
was necessary to set up a separate residential district for the 
Jews. 

* Ibid., No 7/1941 p. 65. 

** Amtsblatt des Chefs des Distrikts Warschau im Ceneralgouverne - 
vient, No. 11/12/1944, p. 113. 


102 



Of course, these were merely pretexts. Not only were the 
measures taken by the occupation authorities not in line with 
modern methods of combating epidemics, but their fear of 
“infection” was also slightly exaggerated since they were soon 
to set up tailor shops in the ghetto which made uniforms for 
the Wehrmacht. 

In his notorious report of the destruction of the Warsaw 
ghetto, SS Brigadefiihrer Jurgen Stroop said that there were 

400.000 Jews in it at the time of its creation. Dr. Schon, in the 
report mentioned in the previous chapter, placed the figure at 

590.000 in the middle of January, 1941, adding that it was con- 
stantly rising as a result of the transfer of Jews from other 
towns in the Warsaw District, where the ghettos were being 
gradually liquidated. 

Figures given by Schon tell of the fantastic overcrowding in 
the ghetto: 110,800 persons per sq. km. of built-up area, com- 
pared with 38,000 in the rest — or Aryan part — of Warsaw. 
There were about 27,000 apartments containing an average of 
2 V 2 rooms; this meant in the beginning about 15 persons per 
apartment, and this figure grew constantly. 

The ghetto was cut off from the city by special walls screen- 
ed with barbed wire. In the beginning there were 22 entrances 
but later these were reduced to 15. They were guarded by special 
police posts. 

This brought to an end the first stage of the preparations for 
the as yet unspecified “solution of the Jewish problem.” 

Soon afterward Hitler took the decision on the “final solu- 
tion.” The fate of Jewry in the occupied countries was, of 
course, to be shared by those living in the Warsaw ghetto. For 
the moment, however, the Nazi authorities were unable to start 
the “deportation” campaign, since they first had to make ready 
the installations for mass extermination. 

Meanwhile, conditions in the ghetto, packed to bursting point, 
isolated from the rest of the city and the whole outside world 
and deliberately undersupplied with food, were worsening 


103 



from day to day. The death rate shot up as a result of hunger 
and the diseases spread by the catastrophic hygienic and sani- 
tary conditions. A relatively small number of the able-bodied 
managed to find jobs and a meagre livelihood in factories and 
workshops belonging to German concerns and usually engaged 
in military production. Some were taken outside the walls for 
forced labour. These had the chance of providing themselves 
with a small number of consumer goods in the so-called Aryan 
area. A small group of the more wealthy were able to afford 
the exorbitant expense of an adequate supply of food smuggled 
in from outside. But the vast majority hardly subsisted, and 
hunger took a massive toll. This deliberate starvation of the 
ghetto was at the time an indirect method of mass extermina- 
tion. Its effectiveness can be judged from the 100,000 deaths in 
the ghetto up to the middle of 1942. The majority were victims 
of hunger. 

The second half of 1942 saw the beginning of “deportations” 
to the East. The first action began on July 22 and lasted till 
October 3, 1942. It resulted in the “deportation” of 310,000 per- 
sons. There is a description of this action by Dr. Israel Milej- 
kowski, an eye-witness and victim of the second wave of 
“deportations.” 

“This was expulsion into the unknown of people driven from 
the streets and their homes, from cellars and attics, accompa- 
nied by the whistle of whips and the crackle of rifles. 

“This was the loading into cattle cars of children torn from 
their parents, wives from their husbands — huge, congested 
groups left without water or bread in wild chaos and confu- 
sion; this huddled mass of humanity — the young and the old, 
the healthy and the hopelessly sick — were taken off on a jour- 
ney to an unknown address never to return.”* 

• Choroba Clodowa (Famine), Warsaw, 1946, American Joint Distri- 
bution Committee, p. 11. 


104 



It was indeed a journey without return; but the destination 
was precisely specified: the extermination camp at Treblinka. 

In a note dated July 19, 1942, Himmler had told the Higher 
SS and Police Leader in the Government General, Kruger, to 
have the “deportation” action finished in the Government Gen- 
eral by December 31, 1942. When he arrived in Warsaw on 
a tour of inspection at the beginning of January 1943 and found 
that the ghetto still existed, he ordered it to be liquidated by 
February 15th and the factories and workshops in it together 
with their installations to be moved to Lublin. 

This action was to be undertaken by the SS and Police Chief 
(SS und Polizeijuhrer) of the Warsaw District, von Sammern- 
Frankenegg. He launched it on January 18, but met with re- 
sistance on the part of the Jewish Fighter Organization and the 
workers of some of the factories. Several days later the action 
was wound up having achieved the paltry result of 6,500 depor- 
tations. Despite Himmler’s order the ghetto was still standing. 
Its inhabitants numbering about 60,000, including a large num- 
ber of youths and able-bodied workers, realized what was in 
store for them. They decided not to allow themselves to be tak- 
en away to certain death but rather to sell their lives dearly. 
Their decision was undoubtedly influenced by the relatively 
small though vigorously active Jewish Fighter Organization. 
After the January deportations, the members of this organiza- 
tion had earned out a number of successful attacks on inform- 
ers and policemen, and this had raised the spirits of the ghetto 
populace. 

Under these circumstances, the complete liquidation of the 
Warsaw ghetto became a serious problem. Fearing that this task 
would be too much for von Sammern-Frankenegg, Himmler 
entrusted it to SS Brigadefiihrer Jurgen Stroop, the SS and 
Police Chief of Lvov, who had been specially posted to Warsaw. 

The action to destroy the ghetto, known as Grossaktion, was 
begun on April 19, 1943, at 6 a. m. and was completed on May 
16th at 8.15 p. m. On Stroop’s orders daily reports on its prog- 


105 



ress were sent by teletype to Kruger in Cracow. When the 
ghetto had been finally destroyed Stroop ordered a general 
record of the “Great Action” to be prepared including in it 
copies of the daily reports ( Tagliche Meldungen) and photo- 
graphs ( Bildbericht ) taken during the fighting. All of these doc- 
uments were bound in the form of an album and presented 
by Stroop to Himmler as a souvenir and testimonial to the 
faithful and conscientious execution of his orders. The title 
page of the album displays in ornate Gothic script this caption: 
The Jewish Residential District in Warsaw No Longer Exists! 
(Es gibt keinen jiidischen Wohnbezirk in Warschau mehrl). 

This unique record of genocide was used as material evidence 
in the Nuremberg Trial.* From its contents it is clear that 
a handful of organized and desperate ghetto inhabitants had 
determined to resist to the bitter end the barbaric plans and 
overwhelming strength of the Nazi supermen, and that they 
had rallied around them a large number of those of their fel- 
low-victims who were capable of fighting. The majority of the 
remainder — those who were too weak to help the combatants — 
registered their protest by passive resistance to the orders of 
Stroop. 

A few extracts from Stroop’s daily reports show how bitter 
was the fighting within the ghetto walls. 

"PROGRESS OF THE GHETTO ACTION ON APRIL 19, 1943** 

“As soon as my units went .into action, there was heavy, 
concerted firing from the Jews and bandits.*** A tank and two 
armoured cars that were brought up were pelted with Molotov 
cocktails (incendiary bottles). The tank was twice set on fire. 
Enemy fire at first forced the units to withdraw. Losses in the 

* The original copy of Stroop’s Report is to be found in the records 
of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland. 

•* This was the first day of the action. 

*** Following Himmler’s stardin orders, "bandits” was the name used 
to describe combatants in the resistance. 


106 



first attack numbered 12 (6 SS men and 6 guards from Traw- 
niki).* At about 0800 a second attack was mounted of units 
under the command of the undersigned (Stroop). 

“In spite of lighter firing, again opened by the defenders, 
this attack succeeded in thoroughly clearing a group of build- 
ings. The enemy was forced to withdraw from the roofs and 
its posts high up in the buildings to the cellars or to bunkers 
and sewers... 

“A search party managed to capture barely 200 Jews. A de- 
tachment of storm troopers was sent in against the concealed 
bunkers with orders to clear out their occupants and destroy 
them. In this way about 380 Jews were captured. It was learnt 
that there were Jews in the sewers. They were flooded with 
water to prevent anyone from taking refuge there. At about 
1730 we met very strong resistance and machine-gun fire in 
one group of buildings. A special detachment crushed this re- 
sistance and stormed these houses but was unable to capture 
the enemy. The Jews and criminals kept finding new strong- 
points which they would abandon at the last moment escaping 
through the attics or by underground passages. At about 2030 
the outside guard-posts (those surrounding the ghetto) were 
reinforced. All units were withdrawn from the ghetto and 
dismissed to their quarters. The outside guard-posts were rein- 
forced with 250 troops of the SS military formations.” 

••PROGRESS OF THE GHETTO ACTION ON APRIL 22, 1943 

“A large number of Jews and bandits were buried under- 
neath the rubble of buildings blown up by the sappers. In sev- 

• The SS had set up a training camp in Trawniki, Lublin province, 
(SS-Ausblldungslager Trawniki). Here it trained volunteers from the 
occupied areas of central Eastern Europe (mainly Ukrainian, Lithuanian 
and Latvian nationalists). They were used as auxiliaries to the SS and 
police for such duties as guards and supervisors in camps, pacification 
of villages, liquidation of ghettos etc. 


107 



eral cases it was found necessary to set fire to the buildings 
in order to smoke out the bands. 

“In addition, it has to be reported that since yesterday some 
of the units deployed in the action have been fired on from 
outside the ghetto — that is from the Aryan area.* The storm 
troopers who immediately counter-attacked managed in one 
case to capture 35 Polish bandits — Communists who were 
immediately liquidated. During the executions which we had 
to order today, it again happened that the bandits died shout- 
ing ‘Long Live Poland,’ ‘Long Live Moscow.’ ” 

••PROGRESS OF THE ACTION ON MAY 8, 1943. 

“As was reported a few days ago, these subhuman bandits 
and terrorists are still hanging on in their bunkers though the 
heat of the flames is becoming unbearable. These creatures 
realize that they have only one choice — either to stay on in 
their hiding-places as long as they can or come out into the 
open and then try to wound or kill the troops of the SS mili- 
tary formations, police or Wehrmacht... The undersigned 
(Stroop) is determined not to wind up this action until the last 
Jew has been wiped out...” 

••PROGRESS OF THE GREAT ACTION ON MAY 10, 1943. 

“Today at 0900 a lorry drove up to the entrance to the sew- 
ers on Prosta Street. A man in the lorry threw two grenades, 
which was the signal for the bandits waiting there to emerge 
from the sewers. The Jews and bandits — there are still Polish 
bandits among them — who were armed with rifles, grenades 
and light machine-guns, got into the lorry and drove off in 
an unknown direction. The last man of this band who stood 
guard over the sewer and was detailed to close the manhole 
cover was captured. He provided the above information. He 
explained that the majority of the bands, divided into separate 

• Attempts were made by combat groups of the Polish underground 
to bring help to those fighting in the Ghetto. 


108 



combat groups, had either been shot in the fighting or had 
taken their own lives because of the hopelessness of the 
struggle. No results are yet reported on the pursuit of the 
lorry...” 

•PROGRESS OF THE GREAT ACTION ON MAY 16, 1943. 

“180 Jews, bandits and subhumans have been liquidated. The 
former Jewish Residential District in Warsaw no longer exists. 
The “Great Action” was concluded with the blowing up of the 
Warsaw Synagogue at 2015. 

“The carrying out of other essential actions in the shut-off 
areas has been assigned, following detailed briefing, to the 
commander of the police battalion III/23. 

“The total number of Jews either captured or definitely 
killed comes to 56,065...” 

This brought the curtain down on the last act of the tragedy 
of the Warsaw ghetto. Those of its inhabitants who were not 
killed during the Grossaktion — mainly women, children and 
old men — were deported to the death camp at Treblinka 
(Treblinka II) and died in the gas chambers. 

The whole area of the former ghetto was then thoroughly 
flattened. The few residential buildings and factories that had 
survived were blown up. A large district of Warsaw, which, 
before the war throbbed with the life of several hundred thou- 
sand people, had been turned into a dead, tangled heap of 
rubble. 



Executions 


A basic feature of the Nazi occupation regime in Poland was 
the total terror, undisguised in its methods, which invaded 
every field of life and embraced the whole population, without 
regard to age or sex. Like all regimes of terror, it operated 
outside the law, though attempts were often made to give its 
methods an appearance of legality. Among the harshest and 
most frequent instruments used, were the so-called executions. 
These were far from being “executions” in the legal sense of 
the word, that is the carrying out of a sentence duly passed by 
a court of law. Under the occupation executions were the 
euphemism given to the arbitrary murder of innocent civilians. 
They were not the result of a due process of law and a legiti- 
mate sentence, even in those cases where they were dressed up 
in a cloak of legality. 

Executions of Poles began with the first days of the war 
in 1939. While the military campaign was still on, they were 
carried out by the Wehrmacht — for example, the mass shoot- 
ing of Poles in Bydgoszcz on September 7, 1939 — or by the 
“operational groups” (Einsatzgruppen, Einsatzkommandos) 
made up of members of the Gestapo or Security Police which 
followed just behind the regular troops. The job of these groups 
was to purge the occupied territories of “hostile elements,” 
among whom the occupation authorities listed political and civ- 
ic leaders, members of the intelligentsia, teachers, priests, land- 
owners, etc. All this action involved primarily the western 
regions of Poland. 


110 



In this early period, the “action groups” received vigorous 
support from the Selbstschutz, an organization something like 
the Home Guard. It was made up of Germans living in Poland 
and possessing Polish citizenship, and led by specially detailed 
SS officers. The majority of Germans in Poland had belonged 
to underground organizations before the war and had under- 
gone secret military training. They had almost certainly become 
part of the fifth column. 

In the first weeks of the war thousands of Polish civilians 
who had taken no part in the fighting at the front were killed 
as a result of criminal activity by the Wehrmacht, the “action 
groups” and the Selbstschutz. When military operations were 
over, the job of searching out “political offenders” and “ene- 
mies of the Third Reich” was taken over by the Gestapo. 

In the first months of the occupation this action was partic- 
ularly widespread in the western parts of Poland annexed by 
the Reich on the strength of Hitler’s decree of October 8, 1939. 
Arrests numbered thousands. The prisons were so overcrowded 
that for the time being the authorities had to set up “Civilian 
Internment Camps” ( Zivilinterniertenlager ) and transit camps 
(Durchgangslager). For the prisoners these were indeed transit 
camps — but in a very tragic sense. The next stop for most of 
them was death either by execution on the orders of the Reich 
Main Security Office or from “natural” causes as a result of 
the appalling living conditions, inhuman treatment and disease. 
The largest and most notorious camps of this type were in 
Poznan (“Fort VII”) and Dzialdowo. In the latter camp, which 
under various names survived till the end of the occupation, 
large numbers of secular and monastic Catholic clergy were 
murdered at the beginning of 1940. By 1941, of the 120 priests 
who had been detained there the only survivors were the 
83-year-old Archbishop Antoni Julian Nowowiejski, the Bishop 
of Plock, and his Suffragan, Bishop Leon Wetmanski. Despite 
persistent efforts by his family to have the archbishop released, 
including an appeal to the Papal Nuncio in Berlin, he was kept 


111 



on in the camp and eventually died there in May 1941. Bishop 
Wetmariski, transferred to a branch camp in Stutthof, died 
in 1942. 

Many teachers and priests were murdered in the coui'se of 
mass executions carried out in Pomerania during the early 
months of the occupation. 

Between 1939 and the middle of 1941 several thousand per- 
sons perished as a result of mass executions in Warsaw. At first 
these were carried out in the gardens of the Seym and then in 
the University grounds; from the middle of December 1939 
onwards the victims were taken outside the town and shot in 
the neighbouring woods. Most of the executions took place in 
the Kampinowskie woods near the village of Palmiry, about 
30 kilometres from Warsaw. 

Beyond the little village of Palmiry, a little to the south of 
the asphalt road leading from Warsaw to Modlin, there is an 
expanse of sandy ground covered with fir trees. It was here, 
several kilometres from the nearest habitation, that an artillery 
dump had been set up before the war belonging to the old 
fortress in Modlin. This dump was dismantled by the Germans 
right at the beginning of the occupation. Even the railway 
tracks of the siding leading to it were removed. 

This desolate spot among the woods was selected by the 
Gestapo in Warsaw as an execution site. A clearing in the wood 
was enlarged by cutting down the trees around it. Before each 
execution a pit of the required size was dug in the sandy ground, 
usually in the form of a ditch about 3 metres deep. The 
victims were brought from Warsaw by lorry. They were taken 
from the Pawiak prison which the Gestapo had used since the 
beginning of 1940 to detain all its "political prisoners.” The 
prisoners never realized that they were being taken on their 
last journey. The Nazis did everything to preserve their illu- 
sions. The victims were allowed to take small parcels with 
them, and often their papers and personal belongings deposited 
in the prison were returned to them. They were also permitted 


112 






German caption: Mit Getoait aus Bunkcrn herausgeholt (Pulled out of their 
hiding-places by force) 


German caption: Diesc Bandlten vertcidlgten slch mit der Waffe (These bandits 
offered armed resistance) 





German caption: Die Danditen cntzlehen sich der Festnahme durch Absprung 
(Bandits avoiding capture by jumping) 


German caption: Ein Stosstrupp (An advance unit) 



Aboohrlft 


lir&iohri lbm 


Ub mdir r Dor iri- und Polise lfuhrer la Oidtrllct Jarachau 


VtTftChiQ, 4 m 16 . Hal 1943 

As. t I ab - ot/Gr. - 1607 i'gb.Nr. 652A3 
Betr. tGhetto-GroBaktion. 


An den 

Hoheren 77- und Polizeifiihrer Ost 
,^-Obergruppenfiihrer und Genral d. Polizei Kruger 
o.V.l.A. 

Krakau 


Verlauf dtr GroBaktion am 16.5.43, Beginn 10.00 Uhr* 

Es wurden 180 Juden, Bunliten und Untenaenuc^en vernichtet. 

Daa ehemlige ^iidische tfohnviertel Jorachau besteht nicht 
nehr. Hit der oprengun^, der ,/arjchauer Synagoge wurde die 
GroBaktion un 20.15 Uhr beendet. 

Die fur die errienteten Sperrgebiote welter zu treffenden MaB- 
nahnen aind dem Kommandeur des Pol. -Bat 1. III/23 nach eingehen- 
der Einweiauag ueertr^gen. 

Geaantzahl der erfaBten und nacnweiulich vemichteten Judea be- 
tragt insgeaant 56 065 . 

Kelne eigenen Verlu 3 te. 

SchluBbericht lege ich an 18.5.43 bci dor /{- und Polizeif uhrer- 


Der if- und Pollzelfiihrer 
la District farachau 

gez. o troop 

W- Brigade fiihrer 
u. Generalmajor d. Pollael 


r4-3tumbanaf iihre r • 


tagung vor. 


P.d.R. 


fa'* 


Stroop’s last report about the conclusion of the “big action” in the Ghetto 



to take food parcels sent from home and were even issued with 
a ration of bread “for the road.” 

All these preliminaries allayed any suspicions or misgivings 
the prisoners might have had. This is quite understandable. 
Although they had been interrogated by the Gestapo, who had 
accused them of various things, usually regarding with their 
pre-war activities, no court had passed any sentence on them. 
In these conditions the prisoners, making allowances for the 
ruthlessness of German methods, presumed that they were 
being taken to concentration camps. 

The transports were usually taken from the prison in the 
early morning. The Polish staff was kept away from this action, 
and working prisoners were not allowed out of their cells or 
were pulled out of their working parties. Eventually the Polish 
prison staff and the prisoners who had spent any length of time 
in Pawiak were able to tell by these signs which transports 
were being taken away for execution. 

In the prison registers the names of these who had been 
taken off for execution were marked with a “T” — for trans- 
port, without any indication given that they had been murdered. 

The lorries taking the prisoners were accompanied by a 
heavy escort. Near Palmiry they turned off the highway, and 
a few kilometres down the side road they stopped near the 
clearing in which graves had already been dug. The prisoners 
were unloaded and blindfolded. They had to leave their bag- 
gage in the lorries, but their clothing and personal belongings 
were not removed. Presumably the Germans had not yet been 
struck by the practical advantages of killing their victims naked 
or at best in clothing made of paper tissue, as they did later, 
and confiscating their belongings and clothes for the “Great 
Reich.” The blindfolded victims were led into the clearing. 
There they were lined up on the edge of the pit and machine- 
gunned. If there was a greater number to be executed the 
victims were split into groups. 

After the war the mass graves in the Palmiry woods were 


8 


113 



dug up by the Polish Red Cross and the Main Commission for 
the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland. Approximately 
800 bodies were found, of which about 170 were those of wom- 
en. Scraps of personal papers and other distinguishing marks 
made it possible to identify about 400 of them. 

The biggest execution in Palmiry took place on June 20—21, 
1940, during the “AB Action” ( aussenordentliche Befriedungs- 
aktion — “Extraordinary Pacification Action”) launched by 
Governor General Frank to decimate the Polish intelligentsia. 
358 persons, including about 60 women, were shot. The victims 
were brought to the spot in groups of over a hundred. Thanks 
to members of the underground movement among the prison 
staff, who at times managed to get copies of the lists sent to 
the prison by the Gestapo of those who were to be executed, it 
was possible to establish the identity of the prisoners in these 
transports. 

The discovery of many of these mass graves was made 
possible by the assistance of workers in the forestry service 
who had secretly watched the executions and marked in var- 
ious ways the place where the victims were buried. Attempts 
had been made by the Germans to conceal these graves. They 
were made level with the ground and rolled, and by the end of 
the war they had grown over with grass, shrubs and bushes. 
For this reason there can be no certainty that all the graves 
have been discovered and dug up. 

Among the identified bodies were those of Maciej Rataj, 
a former Marshal of the Seym; the Socialist leader and editor- 
in-chief of the daily newspaper Robotnik (The Worker), Mieczy- 
slaw Niedzialkowski; Stefan Koped, a biologist, and Kazimierz 
Zakrzewski, a historian, both professors at the University of 
Warsaw; Janusz Kusocinski, an Olympic gold medallist at Los 
Angeles, and many other well-known figures. 

Often the murder of these innocent civilians was given a ve- 
neer of legality. For this purpose the administration of the Gov- 
ernment General introduced summary police courts. On 


114 



October 31, 1939, Governor General Frank issued an action on 
combating acts of violence in the Government General ( Verord - 
nung zur Bekdmpfung von Gewalttaten im Generalgouveme- 
ment)* which made any such acts against the German authori- 
ties or German individuals, or any incitement to violation of the 
administration’s orders, a capital offence. It has to be added 
that orders issued by the Army General Staff on Septem- 
ber 1939, which had introduced the death penalty for possessing 
arms and ammunition, were still kept in force. Cases involving 
any of these offences of a “political” character were handed 
over to the summary police courts. These courts could be con- 
vened as need arose and were made up of a police unit com- 
mander, a battalion commander or the commander of one of 
the Gestapo’s Einsatzkommandos (“Action Commandos”) plus 
two officials from the department concerned. 

This order made no provision for the conduct of an investiga- 
tion to determine guilt. All that was needed to pass sentence 
was the evidence of one witness. The accused had no opportu- 
nity to defend himself. The procedural rules in these courts re- 
quired only the recording of the names of the judges and ac- 
cused, the evidence on which the sentence was based, the of- 
fence, and the date of execution. 

On October 2, 1943, Frank issued an order on combating sab- 
otage of German reconstruction work in the Government Gen- 
eral ( Verordnung zur Bekdmpfung von Angriffen gegen das 
deutsche Aufbauwerk im Generalgouvernement )** which con- 
siderably extended the range of “political” crimes that were 
capital offences. These now included any infringements of the 
laws, regulations and ordinances of the authorities, committed 
with intent to damage or obstruct “German reconstruction 
work.” “Offences” in this category came under the jurisdiction 

• Verordnungsblatt des Generalgouvemeurs fiir die besetzten polni- 
schcn Gebicte, 1939, p. 9. 

Verordnungsblatt f Ur das Generalgouvernement, 1943, p. 589. 


115 



of the summary courts run by the Security Police and Security 
Service, in other words, the Gestapo. The same procedure was 
to be followed as in the summary police courts. 

It needs hardly be said that these police courts bore no re- 
semblance to a legitimate court of law or the principles of law; 
on the contrary, they violated these principles in every respect. 
Sentence was passed without any prior investigation and 
without the slightest attempt at objective appraisal of the evi- 
dence. The laws of procedure did not even admit the obligation 
to allow the prisoner to appear before this pseudo-court in per- 
son, even to hear sentence passed. It is typical that the word 
used in the order is invariably the “condemned” and not the 
“defendant.” From this it is obvious that the “court” would 
inevitably sentence anyone whom it tried. But there were often 
cases when even this travesty of court procedure was omitted. 
Notices were simply posted in towns and villages with the 
names of persons who had been shot saying that “the sentence 
of the court” had been carried out. 

The execution of arrested “political offenders,” who often 
had to spend some length of time in prison, was designed as 
a preventive measure. On the one hand, the object was to 
destroy that section of Polish society which, in the eyes of the 
authorities, constituted a potential danger to Nazism, since they 
were potential organizers of a resistance movement, that is, 
political and civic leaders and the intelligentsia in general. On 
the other hand, the Germans hoped to terrorize the Poles into 
abandoning any attempts at starting a resistance movement. 

The scale of the terror practised in the Government General 
is best conveyed by a statement made by Governor General 
Hans Frank in a lengthy interview given to Kleiss, the corre- 
spondent of the Volkischer Beobachter, on February 6, 1940. The 
interview took place in Frank’s residence on Wawel Hill, in 
Cracow, over a glass of wine. One of the questions asked by 
Kleiss was whether it might not be worth studying the differ- 
ence between the Protectorate of Czechoslovakia and Moravia 


116 



and the Government General. “I can give you a vivid illustra- 
tion of the difference," Frank replied. “In Prague large red 
notices were posted to inform everyone that 7 Czechs had been 
shot. At the time I said to myself: If I wanted to have notices 
posted to announce every shooting of 7 Poles, there would not 
be enough forests in Poland to produce the paper for these 
posters."* 

The “AB Action," which was intended to eliminate the 
“leading section” among the Poles, was the subject of a meet- 
ing devoted to police questions that was held on Wawel Hill 
in Cracow on May 30, 1940. At this meeting Frank said: “While 
the lives of thousands of men of the finest German blood are, 
every minute and every second, being sacrificed in the West, 
we as National Socialists have a duty to make sure that the 
Polish nation does not by chance reassert itself at the expense 
of these German victims. This is a suitable occasion to discuss, 
in the presence of SS Obergruppenfiihrer Kruger and comrade 
Streckenbach, our Extraordinary Pacification Plan (ausseror- 
dentliches Befriedungsprogramm) which envisages a more rapid 
liquidation of members of the resistance movement and other 
politically suspect individuals now in our hands, and measures 
for dealing with the legacy of the old Polish criminal instinct. 
I openly admit that many thousands of Poles will pay with 
their lives, particularly the most notable representatives of the 
intelligentsia. However, a burden has been placed on the shoul- 
ders of all of us, as National Socialists, to prevent the Polish 
nation from ever again offering any resistance. I realize the 
responsibility that we are taking on ourselves. It is, however, 
obvious that we must do this, precisely because of the need to 
defend the eastern flank of the Reich. In addition, SS Ober- 
gruppenfuhrer Kruger and I have decided that the pacification 
action ( Befriedungsaktion ) is to be carried out posthaste. 

* Frank's Diary, Working Sessions and Addresses, vol. IX p. 440. 


117 



I would like to ask all of you to help us with all your energy to 
carry out this task...”* 

One of the results of the “AB Action” was the aforemention- 
ed mass execution in Palmiry on June 20—21. 

A second type of frequent executions were those carried out 
as reprisals. The main sufferers were civilians who were shot 
for various kinds of “political” offences, when the actual cul- 
prits could not be found. Applying the principle of collective 
responsibility on a wide scale, the authorities executed persons 
selected at random from among the local inhabitants of the 
place where the “offence” had been committed or from among 
the residents in the vicinity. Quite often the authorities arrest- 
ed prominent members of a particular locality as hostages and 
shot them if any “political” offence was committed in the area. 

In all these reprisals those who were shot were almost always 
innocent; not only had they had nothing to do with the actual 
“offence” but often were not even involved with the group 
that committed it. 

One of the first such executions was the shooting on Decem- 
ber 27, 1939, of 107 people from Wawer near Warsaw in repris- 
al for the killing of two non-commissioned officers from the 
538th Construction Battalion ( Baubataillon ) stationed in Wawer. 
These soldiers had been killed by two criminals, known in the 
area, who on December 26, 1939, had shot a Polish policeman 
several kilometres from Otwock and fled. The Polish police 
station in Wawer had been informed by telephone that the 
thugs were probably in the area and had asked local German 
headquarters for help in capturing these dangerous criminals. 
The two German soldiers had been shot on the evening af 
December 27th in a small cafe when without taking any pre- 
cautions they had asked the gunmen for their papers. 

The circumstances of the killing were well known to the 
German authorities; the two criminals had been identified: and 

• Frank’s Diary, Working Sessions, 1940, vol. IX. 


118 



there was absolutely no political implication to the crime. Nev- 
ertheless, a unit of the 31st corps of military police ( Ordnungs - 
polizei) arrived from Warsaw, which shot in reprisal 106 people 
and hanged one from Wawer and nearby Anin. The execution 
was preceded by a “sentence” handed down by a specially 
summoned summary police court. The chairman of the court 
was the commander of the VI battalion of the police corps, 
Friedrich Wilhelm Wenzel. One of the judges in the trial was 
Lt. Colonel Max Daume deputizing for the corps commander 
who was out of Warsaw. Both these officers were extradited 
to Poland after the war and sentenced to death. Daume was 
tried in 1947 by the Supreme National Tribunal in Warsaw, 
Wenzel in 1950 by the Appellate Court in Warsaw. Both these 
trials exposed the viciousness and hypocrisy of the summary 
police courts. Josef Meisinger, head of the Security Police and 
Security Service ( Kommandeur der Sicherheitspolizei und SD) 
for the District of Warsaw, who was tried with Max Daume, 
admitted that these courts, which functioned without a prose- 
cutor, without any investigation of guilt, and without any 
opportunity for the accused to defend himself, were not really 
courts of law even though they were called such. 

Wawer was the first, but by no means the last mass execu- 
tion. The terror grew from day to day, while the repressions 
not only failed to crush the spirit of opposition but, on the 
contrary, intensified the universal hatred of the Nazi occupation 
authorities and helped to create and strengthen an organized 
resistance movement. 

The repressions were no less ruthless and brutal in the coun- 
tryside, where they often took on the appearance of a mass 
slaughter of innocent persons. As an example, there was the 
huge retaliatory massacre on April 13, 1940, in the village of 
J6zef6w, near Luk6w, in the province of Lublin. The descrip- 
tion of this atrocity is based on the records of the Main Com- 
mission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland. 

On April 12, 1940, in the late evening, armed bandits raided 


119 



the house of Adolf Kastner, a local settler of German origin, 
in the village of Jozefow. They murdered his whole family of 
five (the parents and three children) and, after having taken 
all valuables, vanished. It must be added that robbery with 
violence was a fairly frequent occurrence in the early days of 
the occupation. The explanation for this is that as a result of 
the fighting in September 1939 and the rapid advance of the 
Germans a large number of criminals serving long sentences 
found themselves at liberty. 

A report of the crime was phoned the next day to Captain 
Franciszek Dobromirski, head of the Polish police for the Coun- 
ty of Lukow. At about noon he went off in a lorry, put at his 
disposal by the local German police, to Jozefow. In testimony 
given to the local court in Lukow on October 9, 1945, Dobro- 
mirski said that on arrival in Jozefow he found a large body 
of German police and a number of officers, led by Count von 
Alvensleben, the deputy head of the Gestapo for the Lublin 
District.* The latter sharply criticized Dobromirski, claiming 
that a chauvinistically minded population was murdering Ger- 
mans. Dobromirski explained to him that the killing of the 
Kastner family had no political background as could be seen 
from the fact of robbery. He also pointed out that there had 
recently been quite a number of robberies involving killings 
since the area was the haunt of a gang of habitual criminals 
whose names were known to him. He gave Alvensleben the 
names of the leader and his gang. He produced several more 
arguments to show that the crime was a routine case of armed 
robbery. His efforts, however, were of no avail. Alvensleben 
could not, or rather would not, be persuaded. On his orders the 
German policemen drove everyone from the neighbouring 
houses into a field near the Kastner farm. Eventually the wom- 

• The witness was mistaken, since Rudolf von Alvensleben, was at 
the same time chief of the Selbstschutz for the Lublin District; the wit- 
ness’ confusion is understandable. 


120 



en and children were released and told to go back to their 
homes. Meanwhile the men were still being herded into the 
field. Captain Dobromirski realized, of course, that the Ger- 
mans were intending to take some form of extreme reprisal on 
these innocent persons. Once again he tried to tell Alvensleben 
where he should look for the real criminals. The only effect 
this had was that Alvensleben stopped the Germans from 
bringing any more persons into the field. 

What followed is taken direct from the testimony given by 
Dobromirski:* 

“Just before dusk, when the men were already lined up in 
a square in the clover field and surrounded by a cordon of SS 
men, two heavy machine guns were mounted behind the square 
at a distance of about thirty paces and opened fire. The rear 
ranks were felled by the hail of bullets, there were cries and 
screams for help. As they tumbled over, the men at the back 
forced the ranks in front of them forward by the weight of 
their falling bodies. The men in front, still unhit by the bullets, 
rushed forward into the open field in the direction of Chor- 
dziezka, assisted by the fact that the Nazi guards had moved 
to one side as soon as the massacre began. When the victims 
started to flee — dusk had already fallen — the Nazis standing 
to one side began to chase the runaways and shoot at them; 
in the meantime the officer in charge had given orders to the 
machine-gunners to hold their fire, and the guards surrounded 
those who were still unhurt or not yet dead. They were then 
finished off with small arms, mainly pistols... 

“As far as I remember, when I asked the commandant of the 
station in confidence to give me the number of victims the 
figure was more than 200. The wounded who managed to 
escape and who subsequently attended to themselves in hiding, 
came to about 100...” 

* Records of the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi 
Crimes in Poland 649 z/OL — inw. 678. 


121 



Later Dobromirski testified that within three weeks of the 
killing of the Kastner family the Polish police had traced the 
three bandits who took part in the robbery, arrested them and 
even recovered some of the stolen property. 

From this account it is obvious that the Germans were not 
concerned with avenging the murder of the Kastner family, 
they merely took the opportunity that had presented itself to 
slaughter a large number of Poles and terrorize the population. 

Another witness, Malgorzata Kalinowska, a teacher and wife 
of Jozef Kalinowski, the local school principal, who was one of 
the victims of this massacre, gave an almost identical account 
of the episode. She added: 

“I was forbidden even to take the body of my husband who 
was buried in a common grave, or to exhume it later. The 
common grave was ploughed over and levelled.” 

After the liberation, 170 of the victims of this execution were 
identified. They had come from six villages and ten tiny 
hamlets. Among them was a young woman who had refused 
to leave her husband. Among, the men nineteen were from 14 
to 17 years old, ten were between the ages of 65 and 70 and one 
was over 80. 

An inventory made on February 9, 1945, by the Community 
People’s Council of Serokomla, within whose jurisdiction Jo- 
zefow falls, showed that on the day of the execution the Ger- 
man police had burned 27 of the nearest farmsteads, belonging 
to the victims together with their livestock, hay, fodder, carts, 
harness, implements, etc. Nothing was allowed to be taken out 
of these houses; all the effects of the victims and their families 
were burned — clothing, footwear, sheets, furniture, etc. From 
some of the farms that were not set on fire the Germans re- 
moved the carts and horses, cattle, implements and even some 
of the personal 'belongings. The German authorities made no 
attempt even to dress up the execution with the trappings of 
legality. A report on this incident sent by Seyss-Inquart, 


122 



Frank’s deputy, to Himmler,* indicated that the Jozefow 
massacre had been carried out in agreement with, and endorsed 
by the highest administrative and police organs in the Govern- 
ment General, but without the previous farce of a court trial, 
as with the execution in Wawer. 

It is worth adding that penal regulations introduced by the 
occupation authorities provided extremely severe penalties, 
usually death, for even the slightest “political offence.” But 
even taking these regulations as a standard of legality, addition- 
al penalties in the form of destruction and confiscation of the 
property of the “political offender” had no legal justification. 
As a general rule, this additional punishment was imposed in 
the countryside by the authorities together with the retaliatory 
executions. 

As has already been mentioned, these brutal and illegal re- 
pressions, accompanied by an extensive application of the prin- 
ciple of collective responsibility, only served to fan a sponta- 
neous hatred of the Nazis and encouraged the growth of an 
organized resistance movement. This in turn made the Nazis 
intensify the reprisals, which reached their peak of ferocity in 
the Government General between autumn 1943 and au- 
tumn 1944. In the countryside, villagers were shot for shelter- 
ing or assisting the partisans, in the towns there were reprisals 
for acts of terror carried out by the organized resistance movem- 
ent on members of the administration who had particularly “di- 
stinguished” records. 

During this period the authorities introduced in Warsaw 
what they called public executions; the formal basis for them 
was provided by Frank’s order of October 2, 1943, on combating 
sabotage of German reconstruction work. This order went into 
force on October 10. At a meeting held in Wawel Castle in 
Cracow on October 19, 1943, at which the state of security in 

* Report on May 5, 1940 — Document 527 in the Main Commission 
records. 


123 



the Government General was discussed, Frank said that this 
order had “given the Security Police extraordinary powers 
which would do away with all restrictions of a formal nature.”* 

These “extraordinary powers” consisted in practice of organ- 
izing huge round-ups in the city and shooting the people 
caught in them. With the removal of “restrictions of a formal 
nature” the Security police was given carte blanche to execute 
all captured “offenders” without having to carry out any pre- 
liminary investigations to establish the guilt of those accused 
of some offence. Although the public notices of executions stat- 
ed that the persons who had been shot had been sentenced to 
death by the Summary Court of the Security Police ( Standge - 
richt der Sicherheitspolizei), it may be presumed that, in prac- 
tice, they did not even bother to go through with this farce. 

The notices of public executions fairly frequently included 
the names not only of those who had been shot but also the names 
of persons sentenced to death by the summary police courts, 
but “due to be reprieved.” In practice, this reprieve was never 
granted and these “offenders” apparently awaiting reprieve 
usually figured in the next notices as having been executed. 
Probably the single exception to this was the case of four Poles 
who escaped death purely by accident. One of them was 
Dr. Stanislaw Arnold, a Warsaw professor. He was a witness 
at the trial of the former Governor of the Warsaw District, 
Ludwig Fischer, and others, held in December 1946 and Janu- 
ary 1947 before the Supreme National Tribunal in Warsaw.** 

Professor Arnold told the court how on December 7, 1943, 
the tram in which he was travelling was suddenly stopped by 
a large detachment of SS and police. From among the passen- 
gers over twenty men between the ages of 18 and 60 were 
detained, including himself. All those who had been arrested 

* Frank’s Diary, 1943, vol. V, p. 10—35. 

** Transcript of the main proceedings of January 7, 1947 (Main Com- 
mission, 248 z/V, pp. 1070 ff.) 


124 



were loaded into a large police van and taken to Pawiak prison. 
Here the personal details of the prisoners were recorded, all 
their money and effects taken, leaving them only their hand- 
kerchiefs, and they were put in a common cell. The same eve- 
ning the prisoners were interrogated. They were taken by fives 
to the former prison chapel where there were several Gestapo 
officers with their interpreters grouped round tables. The offi- 
cers questioned each of the prisoners in turn. Arnold while 
awaiting his turn, made a careful observation of the manner in 
which the man in front of him was being interrogated. He was a 
young man who did not understand German. The officer asked 
him his full name, date of birth and address. Then he was asked 
if he belonged to a “partisan gang,” as the officer called it, or 
to any other grouping fighting the Germans. The answer was 
in the negative. The officer then typed something on a piece 
of paper. The interpreter read out from this card, in Polish, 
a statement which agreed with the answers that had been given 
by the young man. He was ordered to sign the paper and with 
that the interrogation concluded. Professor Arnold who had 
gone up to the table after the young man’s departure saw the 
interpreter take a large mimeographed sheet of paper and 
attach the card that had just been signed by the Pole to it. 
Standing right next to the table Professor Arnold could read 
what was written in German in the statement signed by the 
young man. It was quite different from what the boy had said 
and from the Polish translation given by the interpreter. The 
statement on the sheet said that the prisoner had admitted that 
he belonged to a partisan gang. The mimeographed sheet con- 
tained the sentence of a police court condemning the Pole to 
death on the basis of his own confession to the commission of 
a crime. Arnold, who now realized the extreme danger of his 
position, described what then happened: 

“Eventually my turn came. It so happened that during the 
questioning the officer realized that I understood German and I 
began answering the questions put by the interpreter directly 


125 



in German. So with me they had to use different tactic. I was 
asked what I was doing in Warsaw. I was a teacher, I said, and 
had been posted to one of the primary shools. He seemed sur- 
prised that the date on my identity card ( Kennkarte ) was com- 
paratively recent. I told him that I had been in Vilna and just 
come to Warsaw. This concluded the questioning. Ho then wrote 
something on a sheet which I could not see, laid it on the 
table, covered it with a white piece of paper, and told me to 
sign. I pushed it back. He drew his revolver and shouted: 
‘What! You don’t trust the honour of a German officer?’ It was 
difficult for me to trust it. I told him that I wanted to see what 
I was signing. In fact, it turned out there was nothing in it that 
could do me any harm, except that between the text and the 
signature — he showed me where I was to sign — four or five 
centimetres had been left blank. I scrawled all over this blank 
space and this provoked another outburst. Then I signed and 
the interpreter told me: ‘Everything will be alright; you’ll be 
released tomorrow, only you will have to leave Warsaw and 
go back to Vilna... 

“It so happened that, quite unexpectedly, a few days later 
in the afternoon of December 15, the door opened and an offi- 
cer announced that I was free. At the gate I met some of my 
companions who had been arrested with me and put in differ- 
ent cells. We were taken to the store where our things were 
returned. Then we went to the office where there was a high- 
ranking Gestapo officer who made a lengthy speech telling us 
the danger we had been in. He showed us a poster on which 
our names had been printed on December 10. My companions’ 
names were also there. He announced that we had been released 
thanks to the intervention of persons who could be trusted. 
But if we were ever to reappear no power on earth would get 
us out. This was the manner of my release.” 

Later in his further testimony, in answering questions put by 
the court and the public prosecutor, Professor Arnold declared 
that he had witnessed the unmistakable falsification of a writ- 


126 



ten statement by an SS officer. He added that he had asked all 
his cellmates, of whom there were about forty, what questions 
had been put to them during their interrogation and what they 
had signed. They all stated that the interpreter had read out 
in Polish the written statement, which they had then signed 
without reading. All of them were relieved that the statement 
translated into Polish had been a faithful version of what they 
had said. They did not suspect that they had been tricked. 
Professor Arnold supposed that the other three persons had 
been freed so that his release would not be the only one. 

This testimony fully confirms the suspicion that the police 
authorities did not consider it necessary to preserve even the 
external appearances of legal procedure for the benefit of their 
victims. They were only concerned with the records of the 
summary court being in order from a formal point of view. On 
this question, a very precise account could have been given by 
SS Obersturmbannfiihrer Ludwig Hahn, head of the Security 
Police and Security Service (Der Kommandeur der Sicherheits- 
polizei und SD) for the Warsaw District, whose signature ap- 
peared on many of the execution notices. Unfortunately Poland 
was unable to secure the extradition of Hahn who after the war 
went into hiding in West Germany. 

The public was informed of Frank’s order of October 2, 1943, 
through loudspeakers placed in the streets of Warsaw. To this 
was added a brief rider that on the strength of the extraordi- 
nary powers given to them the police had the right to shoot any 
passer-by who seemed to them suspicious. 

A few days after this order went into effect, Warsaw became 
the scene of round-ups on an enormous scale. Large canvas- 
covered police lorries, called “coops” by the Varsovians, would 
suddenly appear in various parts of the city. Streets or areas 
would be sealed off with heavy cordons of police, and all men, 
not only in the streets but also in trams or shops, would be 
loaded into the lorries. In these round-ups the police and SS 


127 



were assisted by units of the Wehrmacht and even the 
Luftwaffe. 

Immediately following the first round-up an announcement 
was broadcast over the loudspeakers from the SS and Police 
Chief of the Warsaw District, SS Brigadefuhrer Franz Kutschera, 
that in reprisal for recent attempts made on the lives of Germans 
a certain number of hostages had been taken from among the 
Polish population, and that if there were any further attempts 
these hostages would be shot on the same day and in the same 
place as the killing took place. The names of the hostages were 
read out with the information that for every German attacked 
ten Poles would be shot. The announcement concluded with an 
appeal to the Poles to assist in the capture of those responsible 
for these attempts in return for which some of the hostages 
would be reprieved. Almost every day there were announce- 
ments of lists of hostages and “criminals” sentenced to death by 
the summary courts, but “due to be reprieved.” Most of them 
were passers-by caught in the round-ups. Eventually the Ger- 
mans stopped making announcements by loudspeaker and 
instead began printing notices of executions on red paper with 
a characteristically light violet tinge. 

On October 16, 1943, the first execution in the streets of 
Warsaw was held, in which 25 persons were shot. After this 
there were executions every few days. A list drawn up by the 
Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Po- 
land,* based on authentic but fragmentary German sources, 
showed that between October 16, 1943, and February 15, 1944, 
there were 33 street executions in Warsaw in which 1,523 
innocent persons, most of them picked up at random in round- 
ups, were shot. It has to be added that this list does not take 
into account executions carried out during this period in the 


* Dr. Stanislav/ Ploski and Dr. Ewa Sliwinska: Miejsce masowych 
egzekucji w Warszawie w latach 1939-1944 (Sites of Mass Executions in 
Warsaw, 1939-1944), Bulletin of the Main Commission, vol. VI, pp. 86 ff. 


128 







Fr. Tadeusz Zablockl, 


thedral, sentenced to 
death “as a sniper” 

(FreiseJtdrlerJ 







ruins of the ghetto, for these were not included by the author- 
ities among the “public” executions and the names of the vic- 
tims were not posted. 

These “public” executions were not what is usually under- 
stood by the term. A better name for them would be “street” 
executions, since they were carried out in the streets of War- 
saw. 

The usual procedure was that a strong detachment of police 
would suddenly arrive by car in the place where the execution 
was to be held. The police would seal off the site by holding up 
the traffic and clearing the streets. Right behind the police, 
a lorry would bring the firing squad, followed by a heavily 
escorted lorry or lorries with the condemned men. Their hands 
had been bound behind their backs and often they were tied to 
each other in pairs. To begin with, they were brought in their 
own clothes, later either in only their underwear or in clothing 
made from paper tissue. Sometimes they were blindfolded or 
had cloth or paper bags drawn over their heads. After an early 
execution, when one of the condemned men began to shout 
patriotic cries, the Germans started stuffing their mouths with 
plaster of Paris, gagging them with rags or sealing them with 
strips of plaster. 

Automatic weapons were used to shoot the victims in groups 
of 5-10. After they had all been shot the officer in charge of the 
firing squad kicked the bodies with his foot and finished off 
those who still showed signs of life with his pistol. After this 
a special gang of prisoners, usually Jews, loaded the bodies into 
covered lorries, scrubbed the blood off the wall and pavement, 
and sometimes covered the bloodstains with sand. The whole 
operation was performed quickly and it was not long before all 
the lorries moved off and the street returned to its usual ap- 
pearance. All that was left were the bullet holes in the wall and 
stains where the blood had not been thoroughly scrubbed off. 
But only a few minutes after the departure of the Germans, there 
would be people laying flowers and greenery at the foot of 


(i 


129 



the wall, lighting candles and putting up crosses. This would 
bring new reprisals from the German police. Without any warn- 
ing they would fire on the crowds that had gathered around the 
site of the recent execution, trample and throw away the flow- 
ers and crosses, and beat and arrest the bystanders. But all these 
methods brought no results. The street executions, in which 
hundreds of persons picked up at random in the streets or taken 
off trams were shot, created such an atmosphere of general 
insecurity that the people of Warsaw positively welcomed any 
act of terrorism or reprisal against the occupation authorities. 

Eventually, in the middle of February 1944, after the success- 
ful attempt on the life of SS Brigadefiihrer Kutschera, the SS 
and Police Chief for the Warsaw District, who was assassinated 
on February 1, 1944, the round-ups and public executions 
stopped. However, the executions in the ruins of the Warsaw 
ghetto went on and thousands of innocent Poles continued to 
lose their lives. 



Deportations 


Deportations from the Annexed Territories 

In the discussion of Nazi plans towards Poland mention was 
already made of Hitler’s decree of October 8, 1939, whereby 
a part of western Poland was annexed by the Reich as the so- 
called “eastern territories” {Ostgebiete). This decree was publish- 
ed in the Reich Journal of Laws. * In this way the rulers of the 
Reich hoped to “legalize” the annexation of part of Poland after 
the conquest of the country by means of armed aggression. 

It would be outside the scope of this book to discuss this act 
in the light of international law. What we are concerned with 
is its consequences for the Polish nation. 

It is no accident that on October 7th, that is the day before the 
promulgation of this decree, Hitler issued another decree which 
was not officially published. This was the so-called “Decree on 
the Consolidation of German Nationhood.”** In this Hitler 
stated that the Greater Reich, having removed the effects of the 
Treaty of Versailles, now had the opportunity to bring back and 
settle on its territories Germans who had up to then been living 
outside its boundaries. In addition, the Reich would be able 
to so dispose the settlement of the various nationality groups 

♦ Erlass des Fiihrers und Reichskanzlers iiber Cliederung und Vcr- 
waltung der Ostgebiete — Reichsgesetzblatt p. 2042. 

Erlass des Fiihrers und Reichskanzlers zur Festigung deutschen 
Volkstums vom 7. Oktober 1939. Main Commission Records 247/z/III, p. 707. 


131 



within its sphere of interests ( Interessengrenzen ) that there 
would be clear dividing lines between them. 

Heinrich Himmler was appointed “Reich Commissioner for 
the Consolidation of German Nationhood” ( Reichskommissar 
fur die Festigung deutschen Volkstums) to carry out the provi- 
sions of the decree. The entrusting of this function to Himmler 
had an important political significance since Himmler, as head 
of the SS and at the same time Chief of the German police, had 
at his disposal a vast and powerful executive apparatus to help 
him carry out his task. Obviously the primary point was to 
strengthen the German element in the annexed territories. These 
areas were to become part of the Greater Reich “forever” and 
were to be purely German lands. This plan could, of course, 
only be realized if the Poles living in them were first removed, 
and Germans settled in their place. Under the decree on consoli- 
dating German nationhood these were to be primarily Germans 
living beyond the borders of the Reich. Just there was a close 
connection between both the decrees mentioned. Without the 
later decree the earlier one would have had no practical value. 

Himmler’s tasks as Reich Commissioner included the depor- 
tation of the populace living in the conquered territories, that 
is the “New Reich,” and their replacement by Volksdeutsche 
brought from other areas. The aim of the Reich leaders was to 
present both the Poles and world opinion as rapidly as possible 
with a fait accompli. For this reason the deportation plans were 
to be put into effect even before the end of the war. Their 
execution was placed in the hands of the military authorities 
under the guidance of the Reichsfiihrer SS. 

In his capacity as Reich Commissioner, Himmler issued a num- 
ber of orders and directives. In these he included the tasks that 
were to be undertaken in the first stages of the action: 

1. Deportation of about 550,000 Jews, Poles belonging to 
the governing class who were antagonistically disposed towards 
Germany, and members of the Polish intelligentsia in Gdansk 
and Pomerania. Those deported were to be sent to the Govern- 


132 



ment General with the Jews located between the Vistula and 
the Bug. 

2. Confiscation of the property ( Grund und Boden) of the 
Polish state, the deported Polish intelligentsia and all persons 
deported or shot for “hostile actions.” The whole of the confis- 
cated property was to be turned over to the Reich and put at 
the disposal of the Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of 
German Nationhood. 

Discussing the settlement in the coming weeks of Volks- 
deutsche from the Baltic countries and Volhynia, Himmler point- 
ed out in these directives that the operation would drag on for 
many years, perhaps even decades. As a result, the deportations 
were at first kept down to the round total of 550,000. 

In an order of October 30, 1939, called Anordnung l/II, Himm- 
ler provided instructions concerning deportations for the 
months of November-December 1939 and January-February 
1940. They would embrace: 

1. All Jews in the former Polish territories annexed by the 
Reich; 

2. In the province of Gdansk-Western Prussia — all the 
Kongresspolen that is Poles originating from other areas of 
Poland who had settled in Pomerania after the First World 
War; 

3. In the province of Poznan, Eastern and Southern Prussia, 
the eastern part of Upper Silesia — a certain number, as yet 
unspecified, of particularly dangerous Poles. 

Those deported were to be sent to the Government General 
where Polish administrative and local government officials were 
to be responsible for their billeting. 

In each district ( Gau ) there was a special representative of the 
Reich Commissioner ( Beauftragter des Reichkommissars fur die 
Festigung deutschen Volkstums) to deal with the deportations; 
as a rule he was also the Higher SS and Police Leader. Thus 
the representative in the Warta Region was SS Gruppenfiihrer 
Wilhelm Koppe, the Higher SS and Police Leader of the area; 


133 



in Gdansk and Western Prussia it was SS Gruppenfuhrer Rich- 
ard Hildebrandt, the Higher SS and Police Leader for the 
“Vistula” district; in Eastern Prussia it was SS Gruppenfuhrer 
Wilhelm Rediess, the Higher SS and Police Leader of the dis- 
trict, and in Silesia SS Gruppenfuhrer Erich von dem Bach- 
Zelewski, the Higher SS and Police Leader for Silesia. Himmler’s 
representative in the Government General was SS Obergrup- 
penfuhrer Friedrich Wilhelm Kruger, the Higher SS and Police 
Leader in the East. 

These representatives were in charge of the deportation of 
Poles and Jews and the settlement of Germans within their 
areas, and to this end they issued various orders and set up 
special agencies and offices. They were responsible to Himmler 
for the totality of this action; under them came the heads of 
the various branches of the police and gendarmerie, including 
the Security Police (Gestapo) which, in line with the order 
issued on November 28, 1939, by the Chief of the Security Po- 
lice and Security Service Reinhard Heidrich, was charged with 
the practical side of the deportations. 

At a conference of Higher SS and Police Leaders held in 
Cracow on November 8, 1939, all these representatives of dis- 
tricts in the East approved a general directive concerning depor- 
tations from the annexed territories. It was decided that all 
Jews and Kongresspolen were to be deported from the area of 
Gdansk-Western Prussia, the Warta Region, Eastern Upper Si- 
lesia and the southern part of Eastern Prussia by the end of 
February 1940. The numbers involved were calculated at about 
1,000,000, with 400,000 from Gdansk-Western Prussia. The re- 
mainder of the Poles were to be examined by a special commis- 
sion which was to decide who of them were to be deported and 
who were to be detailed for Germanization or forced labour in 
the Reich. 

In the Warta Region, SS Gruppenfuhrer Koppe wrote in 
a confidential report of November 12, 1939, that between No- 
vember 15, 1939, and February 28, 1940, 200,000 Poles and 


134 



100,000 Jews were to be removed from the area and sent to 
Lublin or south of Warsaw, he pointed out that the object of 
the deportations was to purge the area of the leading section 
of the Polish intelligentsia, make the new German territories 
secure and find homes and workshops for the incoming Volks- 
deutsche. The deportations of Poles and Jews were to precede 
the arrival of Volksdeutsche by a few days. The administrative 
and police authorities were to draw up confidential lists of per- 
sons to be deported and only in exceptional cases were labour 
offices to be allowed to seek police approval to hold back any 
person on the ground that he was an irreplaceable worker. 

Those being deported had to abandon all their property and 
effects. They were allowed to take with them only hand bag- 
gage and a small amount of money, 200 zlotys in the case of 
Poles and 50 zlotys in the case of Jews. To prevent them from 
destroying their property or hiding money and jewelry they 
were given very little advance notice of the deportation. 

Expecting that there would be large sums of money left by 
the deportees, Greiser, the governor of the Warta Region, issued 
an order on November 15, 1939, setting up a special account in 
the National Bank ( Landesbank ) in Poznan into which the 
money would be paid; and on December 13, 1939, Koppe formed 
a special department, called Bodenamt, to divide up the land 
confiscated from the Poles among the Germans and Volks- 
deutsche settled in their place. 

With the completion of the technical preliminaries such as 
the drawing up of lists of persons to be deported, the securing 
of railway transport for them, etc., the Germans prepared the 
first stage of the “Immediate Plan” (der erste Nahplan) which 
called for the deportation of about 80,000 Poles and Jews. This 
was put into effect between the 1st and 17th of December, 1939, 
with 87,883 persons deported from 41 towns and counties of the 
Warta Region, to the Government General. 

Between February 10 and March 15, 1940, a further 40,128 
persons were deported as part of the Zwischenplan, the object 


135 



of which was to provide homes and workshops for the Volks- 
deutsche from the Baltic countries. 

In the second phase of the “Immediate Plan” (der zweite 
Nahplan), which lasted from March 15, 1940, to January 20, 
1941, 133,506 persons were deported, some to the Government 
General, some to forced labour in the Reich, while a certain 
number, “suitable for Germanization,” were sent to Germany. 
German reports of the time state that the object of these depor- 
tations was to make way for Volksdeutsche from Volhynia, Ga- 
licia, Chelm, and the other side of the Narew. As more Volks- 
deutsche arrived from various parts of Europe, there were more 
deportations of Poles. 

In the third phase of the “Immediate Plan” ( der dritte Nah- 
plan), covering the whole of 1941 and half of January 1942, 
330,000 Poles were to be deported. This information was passed 
on by the Head of the Resettlement Department in Poznan, 
SS Obersturmbannfiihrer Hermann Krummey, in a letter to 
the Main Reich Security Office on January 6, 1941. This report 
said that 132,000 Poles were to be deported to make way for 
42,500 Volksdeutsche from Bessarabia; 22,000 were to be de- 
ported for 11,000 Volksdeutsche from Bucovina. In addition, 
another 130,000 Poles were to be expelled to increase the area 
of military training grounds, 30,000 to make room for resettled 
Volskdeutsche and 16,000 for craftsmen from the Reich. Krum- 
mey pointed out that should there be further arrivals of Volks- 
deutsche, more Poles would be deported, two Poles for each 
Volksdeutsch. 

During the third phase of the Nahplan the Germans succeeded 
in deporting only 130,826 Poles, the majority of whom were sent 
to the Government General, with only a very small proportion 
going to the Reich for Germanization. The remainder, after being 
dispossessed of their homes, workshops and farms, were left in 
the Warta Region as forced labour on the farms of the Volks- 
deutsche or in industry. It often happened that a Pole who had 
lost his farm or workshop was forced to work as a farm labourer 


136 



or worker in the very same farm or artisanshop now taken over 
by a Volksdeutsch. In addition, 20,712 Poles were removed from 
the neighbourhood of Sieradz and their farms absorbed by army 
training grounds. 

All these figures come from partially preserved German doc- 
uments and give only a fraction of the picture of deportations. 

Those taking part in the actual deportations came from every 
department of the occupation authorities — the administration, 
the NSDAP, every branch of the police, gendarmerie, Selbst- 
schutz, etc. 

The deportations usually took place at night. To prevent the 
Poles from evading deportation a special order was issued impos- 
ing a curfew from 7.30 to 6 a.m. Somewhere between these 
hours the police, gendarmerie or Gestapo would arrive and drag 
people out of their houses, sometimes not even allowing them 
to get dressed. They were forced to leave everything behind 
and permitted only to take hand baggage. They were marched 
to an assembly point where they waited until rail transport was 
arranged, without any provisions being made for food or sani- 
tary facilities, even though their numbers included women, 
children, the sick and the aged. 

In Poznan, the Germans started these expulsions as early as 
on October 22, 1939. The victims were placed in barracks on 
Glowna Street where they remained for several weeks until 
they were taken off in cattle cars to the Government General. 

Particular attention was paid to members of the Polish intel- 
ligentsia. In this period many of the professors at Poznan Uni- 
versity were deported. One of them, Professor Tadeusz Silnicki, 
giving evidence at the trial of Artur Greiser before the Supreme 
National Tribunal on June 23, 1946, described the deportation: 

"On November 9, 1939, I was deported from Poznan; the 
reason for my deportation was that I was a professor at Poznan 
University. I was taken together with my 75-year-old sick moth- 
er who was semi-paralyzed as a result of a serious operation 
following a fracture of the hip. When I drew the attention of 


137 



three German policemen that my mother could not move because 
she was paralyzed in the leg, they brutally replied ‘BefehV and 
‘heraus.’ They rolled my mother out of bed onto the carpet 
and carried her to the bus. I must point out that I could not 
take any cases with me because I had to help carry my mother 
and that the police were looting the house for money and food. 
They left us only 100 zlotys per head. I had 10,000 zlotys taken. 
In the camp on Glowna Street I met the following professors 
of the University: Taylor, Rosiriski, Tymieniecki, Winiarski, and 
Bossowski. After three weeks on Glowna Street we were sent 
off to Ostrowiec Swi^tokrzyski. The journey lasted three days 
and four nights. My mother died on December 17, 1939. Her 
death was hastened, if not caused, by the appalling conditions 
in which the Poles found themselves during this evacuation.” 

In this manner about 70,000 Poles living in Poznan were de- 
ported in 1940; in their place came about 36,000 Germans from 
the Baltic region. 

In Lodz, the deportations started in December 1939 during 
a period of intense frosts; about 6,000 families were involved, 
mainly the intelligentsia and wealthy businessmen. The same 
thing was repeated in other towns of the Warta Region, the 
population of Wloclawek was reduced from 67,000 to 18,000, 
that of Kalisz from 80,000 to 20,000. 

After the towns it was the turn of the villages. The first to 
be deported were the owners of landed estates, followed by the 
wealthier farmers and peasants. They had to leave everything 
behind: farm implements, livestock, furniture, clothes, etc. This 
pattern was followed in village after village. Some were 
removed in a particularly brutal manner, with the peasants 
abused and beaten to “knock Poland out of their heads,” as the 
Germans put it. 

Not even orphaned children were spared. However, their ex- 
pulsion took on a somewhat different character. Several thou- 
sand children living in orphanages, special institutions, with 
adopted parents or even with their own parents were deported 


138 



to the heart of the Reich and handed over to German families 
for purposes of Germanization. 

During the transportation of the victims by cattle cars to the 
Government General there were many fatalities. The doors of 
these wagons were locked from the outside and nobody was 
allowed out even to perform his natural functions. When the 
local villagers tried to hand food and water into the wagons at 
wayside stops, the escort kept them out, beating them with rifle 
butts and sometimes even opening fire. There were cases during 
the winter months when people froze to death. For example, 
26 bodies were found among a trainload that arrived in Cracow 
on January 7, 1940, and in D^bica a transport contained 30 frozen 
children. Sometimes the bodies of the victims were frozen to 
the floors of the wagons. Even the authorities of the Govern- 
ment General complained that often a larger number of persons 
were deported from the annexed territories than had been pro- 
vided in the approved plans, as a result of which the deportees 
had sometimes to spend as long as 8 days at the unloading point 
locked up in the cattle cars without being allowed to perform 
their natural functions. They also grumbled at the methods used 
in the deportations; for example, in one trainload that arrived 
in the Government General during heavy frosts 100 people had 
frozen to death, and often people arrived who were not fully 
dressed, which created problems of clothing and forced the 
authorities to ask the Reich for larger allotments of supplies. 
This they did not for humanitarian reasons but solely because, 
they did not want the additional trouble. 

In the province of Gdansk-Western Prussia the deportations 
followed the same pattern. At a conference, presided over by 
SS Gruppenfuhrer Hildebrandt, held in Gdansk on November 15, 
1939, instructions were drawn up for the deportation of about 
400,000 Poles and Jews in the first phase. Apart from Jews, 
Kongresspolen, members of the intelligentsia and landowners 
these deportations were also to take in the families of “dangerous 
Poles who are no longer alive,” that is, persons murdered dur- 


139 



ing the extermination campaign of autumn 1939. The expulsions 
were to start with the southern part of this province, since the 
population density there was smaller and it would be easier and 
quicker to draw up lists of persons to be deported; the de- 
portations would then move northwards. 

The census of this area carried out on December 3-6, 1939, 
was used as the basis for drawing up the lists of those to be 
deported. All the Poles were divided into two categories in the 
census forms: “natives” ( Einheimische ), that is those who had 
already been living there under the Prussian partition, and 
“newcomers” ( Zugewanderte ), that is those who had settled 
there after the First World War, otherwise known as Kongress- 
polen. The whole of the populace was divided into four groups 
(Stufe), of which Group III, that included Kongresspolen and 
all Poles who were “suspect” ( nicht einwandfrei), and Group 
IV, which included Jews, undesirables, etc., had without excep- 
tion to be cleared from the area of this province. The Poles in 
Group II, who were called “loyal” (Gutwillige), were allowed 
to remain. 

The first wave of deportations came between October and 
December 1939; about 50,000 Poles and Jews mainly from the 
towns (for example, Gdynia) were expelled to the Government 
General. The main victims were members of the intelligentsia, 
landowners and merchants. Thus part of the population had 
been deported before the above-mentioned conference and cen- 
sus. These deportations were a continuation of the wave of 
repressions which had aimed at eliminating the leading Polish 
element from these areas and had begun with the mass execu- 
tions of civilians in autumn 1939. 

The deportations that followed and lasted for several years 
were closely connected with, and their intensity regulated by, 
the arrival of Germans repatriated from various countries. 

It had . been decided at the Gdansk conference of November 
15 that in the purely agricultural areas deportations could only 
begin after the arrival of a suitable number of resettlers who 


140 



could immediately take over the farms left by the deportees. 
This would avoid interruption in the work of the farms and 
save the harvest. 

Under the Office of the Representative of the Reich Commis- 
sioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood a special 
Settlement Headquarter ( Ansiedlungsstab ) was set up in July 
1940 with a network of local branches ( Kreisarbeitsstab ). The 
primary duty of these offices was to select the farms which 
were to be settled by Germans, in other words, draw up a list 
of Polish farmers who were to be ejected from their holdings. 
They also helped the Central Resettlement Office ( Umwande - 
rerzentralstelle), set up in Pomerania at the end of 1940, in the 
deportation of Poles and the settlement of Germans. 

The actual deportations were carried out by units of the 
police (various types, including the Gestapo), units of the SS, 
gendarmerie, Selbstschutz, etc. Special orders were issued con- 
cerning conduct during these operations. 

The deportations were usually carried out at night without 
advance warning. The victims, allowed only hand baggage, were 
gathered at an assembly point and then taken to resettlement 
or labour camps. Camps of this sort were, among other places, 
to be found in Torun, Potulice, Jablonna and Tczew. They were 
usually converted factory buildings or barracks. The deportees 
were left there without medical attention, kept on a starvation 
diet and made to sleep in primitive cots. This led to a high 
mortality rate, especially among the aged and the very young. 

As soon as the victims arrived in the camp they were searched 
and robbed of all their valuables, such as wedding rings, heir- 
looms, etc. There were also “racial examinations” on the basis 
of which the Germans separated Poles suitable for Germaniza- 
tion from those who were to be deported to the Government 
General or to forced labour in the Reich. At times, the victims 
were kept in these transit camps for as long as several weeks. 
In some they were kept even longer and forced to work on 
farms or in factories. 


141 



Apart from the resettlement camps there were also special 
camps for those Poles who already had been or were to be en- 
tered on the German national lists. Camps of this sort were lo- 
cated in Puck, Nowe Miasto and Torun. The plan was that the 
people in these camps would later be resettled in the Reich. 

The units involved in these deportations sent precise reports 
to their superiors. The police station in Chelmza, in a report 
sent on May 15, 1940, to a staff officer of the police in Bydgoszcz 
described in detail the course of the second deportations from 
Chelmza on May 14: “The action was carried out by the police 
assisted by 45 N.C.O’s from a local anti-tank unit and 25 SS 
men. All the exits from the town were cordoned off by a double 
line of sentries who had lists of the persons to be deported. The 
action was begun at 3 a.m. A total of 145 persons were taken 
and temporarily gathered in two assembly points. Then they 
were all marched off to the station. The Director of the Labour 
Office, on the basis of a list in his possession, screened 25 per- 
sons for work ( Arbeitseinsatz ) in the Reich. At 13.20 the depor- 
tees were sent off in the direction of Torun. In Torun they 
were handed over to the Gestapo.” 

In Gdansk-Western Prussia the deportations took other forms 
as well. Attention here was primarily paid to the owners of 
farms, workshops, houses and even apartments. These Poles 
were not deported to the Government General or the Reich but 
were simply dispossessed of their farms, workshops and homes, 
with everything in them, including furniture, clothing, under- 
wear, etc. Frequently they were compelled to go on working 
as forced labour on the farms and workshops taken away from 
them and handed over to German colonists. 

As already mentioned, the deportations also involved the 
Jews. The number of them living in Gdansk-Western Prussia 
was comparatively small, especially after the completion of the 
extermination action (meaning executions) in the autumn of 
1939 and the Jews’ self-chosen evacuation of this area in the 
first weeks of the occupation. The final expulsion of the remain- 


142 



ing Jews, most of whom were living in the counties of Lipno 
and Rypin, was fixed for February 27 at 2.30 a.m. by a confer- 
ence held in Gdynia on February 19, 1941. That day all the 
Jews ( Volljuden ) were deported and placed in a transit camp in 
Tczew. 

It is difficult to arrive at exact figures for the number of 
Poles and Jews expelled from this area. Some figures are pro- 
vided by the memorandums and reports of the resettlement 
authorities. SS Gruppenfiihrer Hildebrandt, in a letter sent to 
Gauleiter Forster on January 6, 1942, said that up to March 16, 

1941, 41,518 Poles had been deported to the Government Gen- 
eral, a further 50,633 Poles had been removed outside the 
deportation actions while 1,022 Jews had been deported to Pal- 
estine and the Government General. In addition, 14,100 Poles 
had been expelled from their farms and placed in camps from 
which they had been sent to work, while there were 6,728 Poles 
in the camps at Potulice, Toruri and Smukala. In a report made 
by a police official attached to the Office of the Representative 
of the Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German 
Nationhood it was stated that between March 16, 1941, and 
February 15, 1942, 19,277 Poles had been sent to camps and 
1,792 Poles had been evicted from their farms and homes and 
billeted with other families. The reports of the Central Reset- 
tlement Office show that between February 15, and March 31, 

1942, 1,000 Poles were placed in the camp at Jablonowo and 
4,520 Poles sent to the camp at Potulice, while between May 
1 and June 15, 1942, 8,800 Poles were taken to Potulice. Of 
course, the deportations did not stop at this latter date but 
continued as more German colonists arrived. 

In Warsaw Province the area known as the Ciechanow Re- 
gion and Suwalki county, which had been incorporated into 
East Prussia, was also included in what Himmler in his direc- 
tives called the “new shaping of German settlement areas.” This 
euphemism concealed the Germanizing of Polish territories by 


143 



deportations of the Polish population and their replacement by 
German settlers. 

The first victims of the deportations were the owners of large 
estates, members of the intelligentsia and Jews; they were 
followed by a vast number of peasants. They were taken to 
resettlement camps from which they were transferred to the 
Government General or the Reich for forced labour. As in other 
areas, the deportees had to leave behind all their effects and 
property and were allowed to take only hand baggage. These 
deportations were carried out by the same authorities as in the 
provinces already described. 

A typical phenomenon in this region was the deportation 
from various localities, particularly from those lying on the 
fringes of the big estates, in order to enlarge their acreage. One 
example of this was the clearing of the 14 villages lying on the 
edges of the Krasne estate in Ciechanow county, where Gaulei- 
ter Erich Koch set up his country residence and organized 
a hunting estate. The owners of 136 farms were evicted and 
their buildings demolished. A similar fate befell Poles living 
in the villages round the Nacpolsk estate in Plonsk county. In 
many cases these deportations were combined with “Pacifica- 
tion actions" during which whole villages were flattened and 
their inhabitants shot. 

The deportation campaign, which also involved areas incor- 
porated into the Gau Oberschlesien as so-called Katowice “re- 
gency,” took one form in the province of Silesia and another 
in the incorporated counties of Cracow and Kielcc Provinces. 

As far as Silesia was concerned the Germans considered that 
it contained the larget percentage of population suitable for 
Germanization. In addition, Silesia, being an industrial and 
mining area, required a large number of workers, especially 
miners, foundrymen, and skilled workers who came from among 
the local Poles. For this reason, the deportations from industrial 
and mining areas to the Government General and Reich never 
reached the same massive proportions. Poles, however, were 


144 








ruthlessly expelled from the agricultural areas to free their 
farms and workshops for German settlers. On top of this, Jews 
and members of the Polish intelligentsia were deported from 
the whole of the region. 

In the annexed parts of Cracow and Kielce Provinces the 
deportations proceeded with their relentless thoroughness. In 
some districts all the Poles were expelled, in others only some 
of them. Among the worst sufferers was the county of Zywiec. 
Here the plans had been drawn up in the spring of 1940 in the 
strictest secrecy so that the intended victims, unaware of their 
inclusion in the lists, would carry on tilling their land to the 
very last moment and would not get rid of their effects or 
livestock, which were to be handed over to the incoming Ger- 
man colonists. 

The deportations started in the autumn of 1940 covering, 
besides Zywiec itself, such places as Jalesnia, Sopotnia, SoJ, 
Zwardon, Radzichow, and went on for some time. The procedure 
was the same as in other areas: during the night or in the early 
hours of the morning a particular town or village would be 
surrounded and people dragged out of their homes. As usual 
they had to leave all their property behind. After this they were 
led under heavy escort to assembly points in Zywiec and Raj- 
cza. Here their persons and baggage were thoroughly searched 
and anything of value taken; in return they were given 20 zlotys 
in Government General currency. Men and young people were 
separated from these groups and sent to forced labour in the 
Reich. The rest — mainly women, children and old people — 
were shipped off to the Government General. The roads and 
streets along which they were marched to the assembly points 
were sealed off and filled with police. The rail transports were 
guarded by a heavy escort who prevented the deportees from 
receiving any food or medical attention on the journey. 

The remainder of the Polish population was also dispossessed 
of its land and forced to work for the German settlers brought 
from Volhynia and Bucovina. In many cases the confiscated 


10 


145 



holdings were merged into one farm with the best buildings 
left on it while the rest were demolished. The pattern was 
repeated in the towns, with the Poles losing their houses, 
apartments, workshops, shops, etc. 

It can be seen that the “eastern territories,” annexed by the 
Reich, were to become German area pure and simple. Before 
the war about 10,740,000 people had been living in this region 
of whom over 9,500,000 were Poles. German plans required the 
deportation of at least 5,000,000. In the first years of the occu- 
pation the Germans carried out over a third of this plan, deport- 
ing about 2,000,000 Poles. In their place they managed to set- 
tle about 500,000 Germans. Of the remaining 4,500,000 Poles 
some were to be Germanized and the rest used as forced labour. 


Deportations from the Zamosc Area 

The Nazis had planned the Germanization not only of the 
annexed areas but also of the rest of Poland, which had been 
formed into the Government General. Although the realization 
of this project was postponed till after the victorious conclusion 
of the war, some attempts at Germanization were made while 
the war was still on with the deportation of Poles and their 
replacement by Germans from the Government General and 
elsewhere. 

For these experiments the Germans picked four south-eastern 
counties in Lublin Province: Zamosc, Bilgoraj, Tomaszow and 
Hrubieszow. 

There were many reasons for this choice. First there was the 
geographical position of the Zamosc area, which borders on the 
Soviet Union; the Germans intended to convert it into a line 
of defence settled by select SS families who would form a strong- 
hold ( SS-Stiitzpunkt ) and barrier against influences from the 
Socialist state. A Germanized Zamosc area would also form 
a bridge between the Germanized Baltic countries and the Ger- 


146 



man settlements in Siedmiogrod. This belt of Germanized terri- 
tories was to encircle the Polish areas lying to the west and, by 
means of pressure from the Warta Region to the east and from 
the Lublin area to the west, make possible the gradual economic 
and physical stifling of Polish culture in the encircled areas.* 
Another important factor was that the Lublin area, which except 
for Bilgoraj county possesses a very fertile soil, was already 
settled by a certain number of Germans. 

On July 20, 1941, not quite a month after the attack on the 
Soviet Union, Himmler made a personal visit to Lublin and Za- 
mosc and issued instructions to create a German “settlement 
region” around Zamosc. In connection with this Zamosc was to 
be redeveloped and a special clubhouse built for the SS (SS- 
Fiihrerheim ) with apartments for the Reichsfiihrer SS and his 
guests. Zamosc, once it was Germanized, was to be called 
Himmlerstadt.** 

Following these instructions plans were drawn up to evacuate 
in 1941 the Poles from seven villages round Zamosc, which also 
contained a number of German colonists*** and replace them 
with peasants of German origin from around Radom (105 fami- 
lies). This plan was carried out in November with Poles being 
deported from Huszczka Duza (November 6), Huszczka Mala 
(November 6), Wysokie (November 8), Bialobrzegi (November 9), 
Bortatycze (November 9), and Podhuszczka (November 25). The 
total number evacuated came to 2,098; they were placed in bar- 
racks in Zamosc before being sent to various villages on the 
Bug in Hrubieszow county. 

After this action, which was not planned on a large scale, 

* Letter sent by SS Hauptsturmfiihrer Helmut Muller, delegate to 
the Office of the SS and Police Chief in Lublin, to the head of the Main 
SS Office for Race and SetUement, Oct. 15, 1941. Main Commission Re- 
cords 963 z/t 2 Document No. 783. 

** Himmler’s note of July 21, 1941. Main Commission Records 963 
z/t 2 document No. 522. 

*** MUller’s letter as above. 


147 



preparations went on until autumn 1942 for mass deportations. 
A census was carried out in the countryside, listing farms, 
property, livestock and people. 

Various departments, including some in Berlin, such as the 
Reich Security Office and the Main SS Office for Race and 
Settlement, were responsible for issuing a number of directives 
and orders concerning the deportation of Poles and the settle- 
ment of V olksdeutsche in this area. 

At a conference held in Cracow on October 10, 1942, Himm- 
ler opproved a directive, later embodied in his order of No- 
vember 12, 1942, on “the demarcation of the first settlement 
area in the Government General.”* In this order the choice 
fell on Zamosc County (Kreishauptmannschaf t) and to it were 
to come resettlers from Bosnia together with V olksdeutsche 
from the East and the Government General. The county and 
town of Zamosc were to be settled with Germans by the summer 
of 1943. The whole operation was to be the responsibility of 
SS Gruppenfiihrer Kruger, the Higher SS and Police Leader in 
the Government General, with assistance from the RSHA and 
RuSHA. He was also to carry out the “essential” deportation of 
Poles from this area. 

Since this operation was linked with the “search for German 
blood” project ( Fahndung nach deutschem Blut), a branch office 
of the Central Resettlement Office in Lodz was set up in Zamosc 
( Umwandererzentralstelle Litzmannstadt — Zweigstelle Zamosc ); 
this came under the chief of the security police and security 
service. The head of this department in both Zamosc and L6dz 
was SS Obersturmbannfiihrer Hermann Krumey. His job includ- 
ed the carrying out of “racial tests” on the deported Poles to 
establish their proportion of German or Nordic blood, and on 
the basis of these tests to determine who of them were suitable 
for Germanization and who were to be deported. 

* Allgemeine Anordnung Nr. 17 C iiber die Destimmung elnes ersten 
Siedlungsbereich.es irn Generalgouvernement. Main Commission Records 
963 z/t 2. 


148 



The key to these tests was provided by the division of the 
local populace into four racial groups ( RuS-Wertungsgruppe ). 

Group I consisted of Germans. Group II included people who 
were considered to have some percentage of German blood or 
features and so were suitable for Germanization. Group III was 
made up of persons capable of working. Group IV consisted of 
the physically unfit and “undesirable elements.” It was supposed 
that Groups I and II would cover about 5 per cent of the popu- 
lation, Group III — 74 per cent, and Group IV — 21 per cent. 
The fate of each deportee was decided by his group. 

Thus, following final approval by Himmler, the authorities 
concerned (the RSHA, Kruger, and the Central Resettlement 
Office) stipulated in their orders that:* 

Those included in Groups I and II were to be placed in a camp 
in Lodz and following a second series of tests sent to the Reich 
to be Germanized. 

Families and individuals in Group III — but only those who 
would be able to work, hence excluding children and old peo- 
ple — were to be sent to Berlin for forced labour to replace the 
Jewish workers in the armament factories. A certain number 
from this group was to be held back for work in the Zamosc 
area. 

Children up to the age of 14, people over 60, and the sick and 
the disabled in Groups III and IV were to be distributed among 
the Rentendorjer, villages mainly in the Warsaw district; the 
age limit for children was fixed at 14 because persons below 
that age could not be sent for forced labour in the Reich. 

All persons in Group IV between the ages of 14 and 60 were 
to be sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. 

All the px-operty of the deportees, except for hand baggage 
and an allowance of 20 zlotys per head, was to be confiscated. 

* Teletype sent by SS Gruppenfiihrer Muller, Chief of Gestapo; 
Main Commission Records 963 z/t 2. document No. 500. Kruger’s order 
of Nov. 16, 1942, Main Commission Records 963 z/t 2; Krumey’s directive 
of Nov. 21, 1942. 


149 



When separating children from their parents, if there was 
any resistance, force was to be used. Only infants up to 6 months 
of age were to be allowed to remain with their mothers. 

The problem of transport was also taken into consideration. 
An arrangement was made with the Railway Ministry whereby, 
beginning with November 2, 1942, it would supply two trains 
a week from Zamosc to Berlin, each taking 1000 persons, and 
three trains from Zamosc to Auschwitz of the same capacity. 

Although these preparations were kept a strict secret, the 
resistance movement managed to get hold of some information 
about the planned operations and to pass it on to the local pop- 
ulation. As a result, the peasants were alarmed and some of 
them began removing their families to other districts, slaughter- 
ing their poultry and pigs and paying far less attention to their 
land than usual. 

When the preparations were complete, the Germans launched 
their mass deportation operation on November 27, 1942, begin- 
ning with Skierbieszow and the surrounding villages in Zamosc 
county. The operation went on till early March 1943 and swept 
Hrubieszow, Tomaszow and Zamosc counties. 

Altogether 116 villages were evacuated in this period: 47 in 
Zamosc county (12 in November, 35 in December), 15 in Toma- 
szow (all in November), and 54 in Hrubieszow (26 in January, 
26 in February, and 2 in March). 

The operation was planned to dispose of about 140,000 per- 
sons; in fact it only succeeded in rounding up and deporting 
about 41,000, or less than 30 per cent. After the first deporta- 
tions the people in the villages began wholesale abandonment 
of their holdings and hid in the neighbouring fields or with 
relatives and friends in other places. Often whole villages 
would be deserted, the inhabitants returning only at night for a 
few minutes to get food. Sometimes the German units which 
had arrived to clear a village found in it only a few aged 
persons. Conditions have been carefully described by witnesses 


150 



examined by the Polish authorities concerning the circum- 
stances of the deportations. 

Thus, M. Krol, a farmer, declared: “Although the Germans 
did not formally evacuate the village of Staw Ujazdowski, from 
the spring of 1943 until the German retreat there were no 
Poles living in it. They roamed around the neighbouring woods 
and fields and only dropped into the village for a few minutes 
to get food when they saw no Germans about.” 

Another farmer, A. Scibak, said: “From January 1943, the 
Poles stopped coming back to Staw Noakowski. Just sometimes 
at night it was possible to get into the village and fetch some- 
thing to eat...” 

The operation was carried out by various units such, as the 
SS, Gestapo, Wehrmacht, Sonderdienst, Volksdeutsche, and by 
Ukrainians in the service of the Germans. Usually a particular 
village would be surrounded at night or in the early morning. 
Then the Germans would march in and order the village bailiff 
to assemble all the inhabitants in one place, or they would 
enter each house separately and drag out the occupants. In the 
larger villages the usual practice was to give orders for an 
announcement to be made in the regular way (bell-ringing, 
etc.,) that all the inhabitants were to gather in a specified place. 
Sometimes, to speed up the deportation, round-ups were organ- 
ized a few days earlier in which adults — mainly men — who 
might cause some sort of trouble during the deportation were 
arrested. The aged, the sick, the disabled, and babies had also 
to leave the houses regardless of the weather, and the German 
reaction to any show of resistance was ruthless, frequently 
resorting to murder. A large number of witnesses have given 
accounts of these operations, but three examples will suffice to 
provide a general picture. 

A. Tkaczyk from Nowa Wies: “My father was sick at the 
time; he was 64 and refused to leave the house, so the Germans 
threw him out of the window.” 

W. Guz from Rozlopy: “Marcin, who was about 70, told one 


151 



of the ‘blacks’* during a deportation that he was an old man 
and would not leave his home, but could look after the cows 
here. The ‘blacks’ led him outside and shot him.” 

A. Wi^cek from Nielisz: “The Germans also murdered the 
family of Wladyslaw Uszajec; they killed his wife and four 
children. The eldest boy was then twelve; he tried to save his 
life by running away. A German ran after him, grabbed him 
by the collar and shot him in the back of the head with his 
revolver. Three children were shot in the house. The German 
picked up each child, shot it in the back of the head and threw 
it out of the window.” 

Anyone who resisted or tried to escape was shot. In Zamosc 
county, for instance, 117 persons were killed during the depor- 
tation operations. 

According to the orders issued, the evacuation of each local- 
ity was to last about an hour. For this reason the deportees, 
who were dragged out of their beds, very often did not have 
time to get properly dressed, particularly in wintertime, or to 
pack any food or essentials. 

The deportees, after being driven out of their homes and 
rounded up in some assembly point, were taken to a transit 
camp in Zamosc. For distances of under twenty kilometres they 
were taken on foot; for longer distances they were transported 
in carts, lorries or sealed railway cars. The carts were usually 
commandeered in a neighbouring village. When the bailiff of 
. a particular village received orders to supply a certain number 
of carts on a certain day, it was a sign that one of the neigh- 
bouring villages was to be deported. The inhabitants would 
then be warned so that they would have a chance to escape, 
hide or prepare their belongings. 

The transit camp in Zamosd consisted of about a dozen 
barracks, each of which was separated from the other with its 

* “Blacks” was the name given by villagers to the Germans in dark 
uniforms who took part in pacifications, round-ups, deportations, etc. 


152 



own barbed-wire fence. The deportees were treated like pris- 
oners and not allowed outside the camp. On arrival they were 
subjected to the aforementioned “racial tests” and divided into 
the four racial groups. A classification stamp was put in the file 
of each of the deportees, thus indicating to which transport 
they were to be assigned. People who were found to have Ger- 
man features had the letters WE ( Wiedereindeutschungsfahig ), 
that is, suitable for Germanization. Those condemned to forced 
labour in the Reich were given the letters AA ( Arbeitseinsatz 
Altreich); the old, the sick and the disabled — the letters RD 
( Rentendorfer ); and children — the letters Ki (Kinder aktion). 
The able-bodied who were to remain in the area as labourers 
on country estates or on farms handed out to Volksdeutsche 
were marked in the records with the letters AG ( Arbeitseinsatz 
Generalgouvernement ). Deportees who were to be sent to the 
concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau were given the 
letters KL ( Lager Birkenau).* 

After this “racial” screening the deportees were divided into 
the above groups and placed in separate barracks. At this stage 
families would be split up, with each member assigned to a 
different transport and children torn from their parents. There 
were harrowing scenes as children, even babes in arms, were 
taken from their mothers by brute force. The children so taken 
were housed together with the aged and the crippled in the 
worst quarters - the so-called “stables.” From then on their 
parents were not allowed to see them. If one of the mothers 
tried to approach the barbed-wire surrounding the barracks 
containing the children, a dog was set on her and she was 
beaten unconscious. The testimony of many witnesses could 
be cited as illustration: 

M. Czerniak (mechanic): “I witnessed the separation of chil- 

* Instructions sent by SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Krumey, head of the 
Central Resettlement Office, dated Zamo£6, Nov. 21, 1942; Main Com- 
mission Records 963 z/t. 2. 


15a 



dren from their parents. There were dreadful scenes, for there 
were often cases when parents refused freely to hand over 
their children. In such cases the children were taken by force 
and the parents beaten. The worst offender was Gestapo-man 
Grunert, who went around kicking people and hitting them 
in the face with his fist or a bullwhip...” 

B. Swist (farmer): “I saw children being taken from their 
mothers; some were even torn from the breast. It was a terrible 
sight: the agony of the mothers and fathers, the beating by the 
Germans, and the crying of the children. While I was in Zamosc 
about 100 children were taken from their mothers...” 

F. Wosiak (farm woman): “The children were allowed to 
spend one night with their parents. The next day the children 
were put in one place and the adults in another. Children up 
to 12 or 13 years were taken, including infants. Katarzyna Kro- 
likowska from Old Zamosc had her 8-month-old baby taken 
from her... The baby was murdered immediately behind the 
wire.” 

K. Mazurkiewicz (farm woman): “When my children were 
being taken I tried to resist; I did not want to hand them over, 
so I was beaten by a German who hit me so hard in the face 
with a revolver he had in his hand that he knocked out one of 
my teeth... Two days after my arrival in Zamosc the whole of 
Block 10 was loaded on to a train and we were sent off to 
Auschwitz. In Auschwitz my husband and son perished and I 
returned with my daughter. My two youngest children were 
deported to Garwolin...” 

Z. Tomaszewska (farm woman): “I was a witness when the 
commandant of the camp took away the children of parents 
from Wielgcza: Aniela Kowalczyk and Jan Byk. When they 
refused to hand them over they were violently beaten and 
kicked by him... I saw the Germans almost daily take away up 
to ten corpses of children...” 

Having been divided into groups, the deportees remained in 
the barracks, often for some length of time, until a particular 


154 



transport was made up. Life in the camp was a nightmare. Some 
of the huts had no flooring and people had to to sleep on the 
ground. The appalling hygienic condition and starvation ra- 
tions led to a large incidence of disease and a high mortality- 
rate. The “sick-bay” was always overcrowded. The sick lay in 
tiered bunks without blankets and covered themselves with 
anything they had managed to take with them during the de- 
portations. Among the testimony to the high death rate is that 
of A. Swist: 

“On November 28, 1942, together with others, I was deported 
from Wislowiec and placed behind wire in Zamosc. In Zamosc 
I was detailed to the removal of corpses from the barracks. 
Over a period of four months I suppose about 500 corpses of 
old people and children were taken out. The children and the 
aged died like flies. We were not allowed to hand the bodies 
over to their families, but we did this in secret. The bodies 
were taken to the parish cemetery in Zamosc. The bodies were 
packed into a single crate, the lid would be opened over the pit 
and the bodies poured into it...” 

The lot of the children was particularly wretched. Severed 
from their parents, underfed, unwashed, lice-ridden they were 
easy prey to disease and many of them died. In the winter their 
ears, noses, fingers and toes were in many cases frost-bitten. 

After a sufficient number of persons from each of the racial 
groups had been gathered to make up a transport, they were 
taken to one of the places already mentioned. The usual method 
of getting a transport together was that in the evening the 
inmates were paraded on the square where the names of those 
selected for a particular shipment were read out. This normally 
took several hours, and, regardless of the weather, the people 
were forced to remain on the square during the whole time. 
Next they would be taken to the station and packed into freight 
cars without food or water. The journey usually lasted several 
days and the wagons were kept sealed up throughout the trip. 


155 



Many people died among the transports, particularly children 
and old folks making the journey in wintertime. 

The able-bodied were not the only people sent to Auschwitz, 
and this created certain problems in the camp. This transpired 
from a report written on December 16, 1942, by SS Untersturm- 
fiihrer Heinrich Kinna* who was in charge of a transport of 
644 deportees. They had left Zamosc on December 10th and 
arrived in Auschwitz at about 11 p. m. on December 12th. 
Kinna discussed with the Deputy Camp Commandant, SS Haupt- 
sturmfiihrer Aumeier (mistakenly referred to as Haumeier) the 
wishes of the camp authorities concerning the deportees from 
the Zamosc area. “As regards capability for work,” he -wrote 
in the report, “SS Hauptsturmftihrer Haumeier stated that only 
able-bodied Poles should be sent to the camp so as to avoid any 
unnecessary strain on the camp or the incoming traffic ( Zubrin - 
gerverkehr). Handicapped persons such as imbeciles, cripples, 
and the sick must be removed from the camp by liquidation as 
soon as possible to reduce the strain on it. The use of this 
expedient is, however, made the more difficult, because the 
Reich Security Office’s orders are that in the case of Poles, 
unlike the means used with regard to Jews death is to be from 
natural causes. For this reason the camp authorities have re- 
quested that we stop sending them persons who are unfit for 
work.” The camp headquarters also raised objections to the 
baggage brought by the Poles sent to Auschwitz and suggested 
that they only be allowed to take what they would need on 
the journey; the rest of the baggage could be confiscated in 
Zamosc and handed over to the appropriate authorities for their 
disposal; to pacify the Poles it could be said that the baggage 
would be sent on later. 

Whole families, including children, were also sent to Ausch- 
witz. Most of these children were killed after a certain time 

* Main Commission Records 963 z/t. 2. 


156 



with intra-cardiac injections of phenol. Numerous witnesses, 
former inmates of Auschwitz, have testified about this. 

J. Szczepanowski: “I was in the concentration camps of 
Auschwitz and Birkenau from May 12, 1942, till March 12, 1943. 
Just before Christmas 1942, while in Birkenau, I saw a trans- 
port arrive from Zamosc county containing men, women and 
children. The transport numbered about 700 persons. The chil- 
dren were aged between 9 and 14. There were 48 boys. I was 
present when the boys were counted in Birkenau near the 
Schreibstube. After the arrival of this transport the men and 
boys were separated from the women and the girls. From con- 
versations with the men it turned out that there were alto- 
gether about 350 men and boys; the rest were women and girls. 
The block leaders and Kapos divided the 48 boys from the 
aforementioned transport among themselves hoping in this 
way to save them. As a result, the boys survived about 
5—6 weeks, after which they were summoned to the Schreib- 
stube where they were counted and the number came to 48. The 
boys came from the village of Sady in the administrative 
district of Skierbieszow, from the neighbourhood of Skierbie- 
szow and Skierbieszow itself, from Majdan, Zamosc and the 
environs of Zamosc. One boy was from Zlojec, administrative 
district of Wysokie; he came from Wielqcza and worked for 
Czop. I cannot remember the names of these boys. The order 
to take the boys before the Schreibstube came from camp 
headquarters. The Germans started a rumour in the camp that 
the boys would be sent for training as bricklayers. As I found 
out, the Germans transferred these boys to the camp at 
Auschwitz to Block 13 where they remained two days, after 
which they were killed with injections and cremated. I cannot 
remember the name of the German doctor who killed the 
children...” 

In cases where children were killed in this way the camp 
medical officer, SS Obersturmfiihrer Dr. Entress, drew up, on an 
official form, a death certificate for camp headquarters; this 


157 



contained a fictitious case history of some invented diseases and 
a fictitious cause of death. This became standard practice in 
Auschwitz, and a table of causes of death was even produced 
which showed how they should be alternated in these certifi- 
cates. The time of death was put down at intervals of several 
minutes. 

The original Auschwitz records include two such bogus cer- 
tificates: Tadeusz Rycyk, aged 9, of Sitaniec, and Mieczyslaw 
Rycaj, aged 12, of Wolka Zlojecka, both of whom arrived in a 
transport of deportees from the Zamosc area. 

A former Auschwitz prisoner, S. Glowa, has described in his 
evidence the way in which they were murdered: 

“I was imprisoned in Auschwitz from August 18, 1941, to 
August 30, 1944, I was branded with the number 20017... In 
October 1941, I got camp diarrhoea and was put in Block 20 
which at the time was being used as a hospital for those suffer- 
ing from infectious diseases. When I got better I was kept on 
in the block as an orderly... The method of killing people with 
phenol injections was introduced and organized by the camp 
medical officer, SS Obersturmfuhrer Dr. Entress; it was first 
resorted to in the middle of 1941. At the beginning the ‘jabs’ 
were given in the cellars of Block 28 which contained the mor- 
tuary. Later the operation was shifted to Block 20 to which 
admission was forbidden because it was quarantined... In 
Block 20 all offenders, who had been condemned to death, were 
collected in the washroom where they were led down the corri- 
dor to the medical office. There one condemned man was sat on 
one stool and a second on another; their chests were stretched 
by pressing a knee into their backs, and the man giving the 
injection, Mieczyslaw Panszczyk or others, stuck a needle con- 
taining a 30 per cent solution of carbolic acid (phenol) into their 
chests directly into the heart chamber... The majority of those 
killed by injections were Jews. But Aryans of every nationality 
were also murdered in this way. In the winter of 1942/43 Ra- 
portfiihrer Palitsch from Birkenau brought two boys from a 


158 



transport from Zamosc. He first placed them in Block 11, and 
the next day brought them to Block 20 where Panszczyk ‘jabbed’ 
them both. The boys were Mieczyslaw Rycaj and Tadeusz 
Rycyk. The parents of the two boys, together with the younger 
members of the family, were gassed. Out of the whole transport 
only about 90 boys between 8 and 14 were selected; Rycaj and 
Rycyk belonged to this group. The remainder, that is about 
90 boys, were brought to Block 20 by Palitsch and killed with 
injections by Scherpe, a medical corps N.C.O. Panszczyk broke 
down, because after the killing of Rycyk and Rycaj, he stopped 
giving the jabs...” 

Families of deportees, including children, were also taken to 
the concentration camp at Majdanek. 

As soon as the Poles had been deported their places were 
filled by German colonizers from various countries, by Volks- 
deutsche from Lublin Province and, in some places, by local 
Ukrainians. Sometimes the holdings were merged and the larger 
properties given to colonists while farmhouses and buildings 
were pulled down. 

This deportation action lasted until early March 1943. There 
were many reasons for its temporary suspension. The mass 
eviction of Polish peasants from their farms and artisans from 
their workshops disorganized the economic exploitation of this 
area. The German colonists who had been settled were poor 
farmers and sometimes ruined the soil. It was also difficult for 
them to adjust to their new circumstances. Living in an area 
that was foreign to them, they did not feel secure in their 
ownership despite the protection of the SS, the police and the 
administration, and longed for a return to their old homes. The 
resistance movement, growing in size and efficiency, also 
threatened their security. Another argument in favour of tem- 
porary suspension was the approach of spring and the sowing 
and ploughing which would have to be done to ensure a good 
harvest for the Nazis. 

The SS authorities and the police generally took the line that 


159 



the deportations should continue, though with a certain inter- 
val needed to prepare the ground for further operations. The 
administration, however, considered that due to the aforemen- 
tioned reasons the deportations should be temporarily called 
off and started again at a more convenient period. 

Zorner, the Governor of the Lublin District, in a memoran- 
dum to Governor General Frank of February 24, 1943,* point- 
ed to the unfortunate effects that the mass deportations of 
Poles from the Zamosc area had had on the Nazi economy; fi- 
nally he warned that in these circumstances he could not accept 
any responsibility for future harvests and asked that the depor- 
tations be postponed. 

Governor Frank, in informing Hitler of the clashes in the 
Government General between the SS and the administration 
over the various instruments of terror and oppression being 
used to destroy and suppress Polish life, also mentioned the 
economic and security drawbacks of the deportations which he 
thought might militate against the achievement of final victory. 
However, he made it clear that in his opinion humanitarian 
considerations could not carry any weight in discussing the 
deportations.** 

Finally it was decided to suspend the mass deportations tem- 
porarily until after work in the fields and spring sowing had 
been completed by the Poles, and in this way to guarantee the 
grain harvest. As a result, during this period only single fami- 
lies were deported. 

Mass deportations were re-started in June 1943 and continued 
till August. They were undertaken partly to release farms for 
German settlers and partly under the pretext of putting down 
“the gangs,” that is the active resistance movement — the 
partisans. 

* Main Commission Records 963 z/t. 2, document No. 503. 

** Frank’s letter to Hitler, May 25, 1943. Main Commission Records 
z/t. 2, document No. NO-2202. 


160 



Bekanntmachung 

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mi 12-11.1043 offenlBdi tnc h l iii w hum 



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von An^nflen gefen d*» deutschc Aufbeuwerk tat OG. von* 2-10.43 wefen Welfenbevkfe* und Tnlneh—r *n 
verbofenen Orf#ntaefioncn mi 1211.43 zum Tode vcnAtcik worden. 



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stiiiK of a public execution in Warsaw on November 13, 1913 


BEKANNTNACHUNG 


OBWIESZCZENIE 




Costing of a public execution In 2yrard6w and Grodzisk on November 20, 1013 


NSDAP Kr»<»l#ttung S«ybu»ch 



Umsiedlung in 56/ und Zvardon 


80040 

*"/i 


Ja*r/r*/p/o(t 0+r 




ou.i gc j /rc/r(te * nr/e/7 /n So/ 


4/ trO'/XM^t c*r t\4en *»/ l/KWt 



Importation of Poles from S61 and Zwardon, Cracow Province, in Sep 

tember 1940 




gpobmusterung 
OUPCH OAS RuS 
— hauptamt — - 


“Race examination” of 
deported Poles 




For this reason the operations in many localities took on a 
double nature, being partly deportations and partly “pacifica- 
tion” campaigns. Often round-ups would be organized in a par- 
ticular place a few days before the actual deportation, and all 
males would be seized and expelled. One of the scenes of this 
type of action was the administrative district of Suchowola 
and it has been described by the head of the local administra- 
tion: 

“The deportations in Suchowola were carried out in two 
stages. During the first, on June 29, 1943, the Germans rounded 
up all the males between 13 and 60 in each of the villages. This 
action took place on the night of June 29-30, 1943. Special 
detachments of the German army made up of motorized and 
armoured units surrounded the villages. Some units took up 
positions to cut off all lines of escape; others entered the village 
to arrest the men. The villagers, taken by surprise, tried to 
escape by taking to hiding-places in the village, while anyone 
who had noticed troop movements earlier had run off to the 
nearby woods. Thorough searches were carried out in the 
buildings, in the fields and in parts of the woods. The soldiers 
walked obout 5—10 metres apart. Where the com was thick 
every metre was carefully searched. Planes flying low over- 
head stalked the people in the fields indicating them with 
smoke or else by diving. The Germans immediately rushed to 
the spot and took them away. People were manhandled, beaten 
and kicked. It was worse for anyone found hiding. Such a per- 
son was dealt with mercilessly, was treated as a ‘bandit.’ Gen- 
erally, the inhabitants were driven to the end of the village 
and drawn up near the woods, where a strong detachment of 
troops was waiting armed with every type of weapon. This is 
where the worst things happened. The SS men, with the help 
of torture, tried to wring information out of some people as to 
how many 'bandits’ there were in the village, and who 
possessed arms. No one would admit anything. People were 
taken one by one into the wood, stood up against a fir tree and 


it 


161 



fired at to drag confessions out of them. This produced no re- 
sults either. In the afternoon the men were loaded into lorries 
and taken away to the camps in Zamosc and Zwierzyniec. After 
rounding up some of the men and terrorizing the rest, a smaller 
force of Germans carried out the deportations without any 
obstacles. This operation was carried out over the whole area 
on July 9, 1943. Everyone was deported — the old, mothers and 
children... a total of 2,730 persons (843 men, 1,041 women, 
846 children). They were given from 10 to 30 minutes to as- 
semble. In the course of the operation 21 persons were killed, 
13 men, 5 women, 3 children)...” 

The pacification actions consisted mainly of murder and the 
burning of houses. Because the numerous pacification actions 
in this area require special study, individual examples will not 
be cited. 

These operations at one time reached such a pitch that the 
transit camp in Zamosc was unable to take all the deportees 
and they had also to be sent to a similar camp in Zwierzyniec. 

These deportations covered a total of 171 villages: 89 in Bil- 
goraj county (24 in June, 65 in July), 44 in Tomaszow county 
(1 in June, 43 in July), 29 in Zamosc county (1 in June, 28 in 
July), and 8 in Hrubieszow county (all in July). 

Because of the ruthlessness and brutality of these operations 
the villagers, supposing that their deportation was imminent, 
frequently ran away to the nearby woods or to some locality 
further off that was not included in the deportation action. 

Not all the villages deserted in this way were settled with 
German colonists. In many cases they were repopulated with 
Ukrainians or even with Poles deported from other places. 
A number of villages, particularly in Bilgoraj county, were 
simply left abandoned. Whole villages stood empty stripped of' 
their goods and property while the fields lay neglected. Some- 
times the method followed was that villages surrounding an 
area settled by Germans were filled with Ukrainians so as to 
form a sort of wall round the German colonists which would 


162 



screen them from the Poles and particularly from operations 
by partisan units and also to channel the hatred of the expelled 
Poles not against the Germans but against the Ukrainians. The 
Ukrainians, for their part, incited by the Germans, in some 
cases not only kept pace but often even outstripped the Ger- 
mans in acts of terror. 

The deportations themselves were carried out in the same 
way as in the winter of 1942/43. Similarly, the conditions in the 
transit camps at Zamosc and Zwierzyniec remained unchanged. 

A certain number of the deportees were resettled in other 
localities, from which Poles had previously been evacuated. In 
many cases German colonists and Poles would be settled in the 
same village except that the Poles would be assigned the worst 
part of the village to live in and had to work as farm labourers 
for the Germans. Those deportees who were not kept for work 
in the Lublin district were either sent for forced labour in the 
Reich, placed in camps or deported to other districts. 

Eventually, the continuously deteriorating situation on the 
front and the blows to security in the Government General 
dealt by the operations of the resistance movement, forced the 
authorities to call off the mass deportations in this area. As a 
result, immediate plans for German settlement, that is up to 
spring 1944, were confined to the towns of Zamosc, Tomaszow 
Lubelski and Lublin. However, the retreat of the German army 
in the east and the increasingly effective partisan operation 
upset these plans as well as others for further deportations. 

Nevertheless, in the course of the mass deportations between 
November 1941 and August 1943 the Germans evacuated about 
110,000 people from 297 villages, taking all their property and 
condemning them to misery and often to death. 



Germanization of Polish Children 


The Nazi plans, discussed in the preceding chapters, envisaged 
various methods and stages in the campaign to wipe out the 
Polish nation. One of the forms this campaign took was the 
compulsory removal of Polish children to be Germanized; some- 
times this was described as the “special treatment of racially 
valuable children.” 

Germanization of these children was intended on the one 
hand to help reduce and so eventually destroy the Polish nation 
and, on the other, to strengthen German blood and reinforce the 
German nation. 

This was a deliberate measure worked out and elaborated 
in all its details in Berlin. In charge of it stood Himmler in his 
capacity as Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of Ger- 
man Nationhood. From him came the crucial instructions to be 
executed by the SS and police departments under him. The 
NSDAP authorities at various levels also took part in this 
action as did some of the highest organs of the national admin- 
istration (The Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Justice) and 
local offices under them. 

The following offices and organizations coming under Himm- 
ler were involved in this campaign: 

An office later known as the General Staff Headquarters of 
the Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Na- 
tionhood ( Reichskommissar fiir die Festigung deutschen Volk- 
stums-Stabshauptamt ) set up by Himmler and one of the 


164 



12 Main Departments of the SS; this was Himmler’s executive 
organ as Reich Commissioner; 

the Main Department for Race and Settlement (SS Rasse-und- 
Siedlungs-Hauptamt, abb. RuSHA) with local agencies in Lodz 
(RuSHA Aussenstelle Litzmannstadt) and representatives 
(Fiihrer in Rasse und Siedlungswesen) at the offices of Higher 
SS and Police Leaders in the annexed territories, East Prussia 
and the Government General; 

the Central Resettlement Office ( Umwandererzentralstelle 
abb. UWZ) with branches, in Poznan, Lodz (sub-branch in Za- 
mosc), Gdansk and Katowice coming under the chiefs of the 
Security Police and Security Service; 

the Office for Resettlement of “ethnic” Germans (Volksdeut- 
sche Mittelstelle, abb. VOMI), set up before the war; 

The “Lebensborn” Association, formed in 1935 by Himmler, 
which later became one of the agencies of the Personal Staff 
of the Reichsfuhrer SS ( Personlicher Stab RF-SS Amt “L”); 

The institution of the “German Native Schools” (Deutsche 
Heimschulen), educational establishments created on Himmler’s 
instructions in 1942. 

Among the party agencies were the National Socialist Society 
of Social Welfare (Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt, abb. 
NSV), set up by Hitler in 1933 as one of the organs of the 
NSDAP. 

Each of these bodies had its particular part to play in the 
campaign for Germanization of Polish children. A vital role 
was also entrusted to such departments as youth (Jugendamt), 
health (Gesundheitsamt), Labour (Arbeitsamt), social welfare 
(Fiirsorgeamt), the courts, etc. 

The Reich authorities had no delusions that the abduction 
and Germanization of Polish children could be justified by any 
lawful principles. They tried to conceal this crime not only 
from public opinion in other countries but even from the Ger- 
mans themselves. For this reason they did everything possible 
to prevent information about this action leaking out. The 


165 



orders, instructions, etc., put out in this matter were not re- 
leased and the majority of them were top secret or confiden- 
tial. Nowhere did they use the term “Germanization of Polish 
children.” The most frequent wording was “Re-Germanization” 
( Wiedereindeutschung ). Polish children were often referred to 
as “children from the East” ( Ostkinder ), “children suitable for 
Germanization” ( Eindeutschungsfahige Kinder), “racially val- 
uable children” ( gutrassige Kinder). Occasionally they were cal- 
led “children of Polish families” ( Kinder polnischer Farrdlien) or 
“children of Poles” ( Polenkinder ). Sometimes, to improve the 
appearance of the whole action, such phrases as “Polonized 
German children” ( Polonisierte deutsche Kinder), “children of 
German descent” ( Kinder deutscher Abstammung) or “German 
orphans” ( deutsche Waisenkinder) were used. 

The Germanizing action consisted of illegally abducting 
children from parents, guardians and orphanages or adopting 
children of parents who had been arrested or shot and handing 
them over to German parents or institutions in Germany and 
the annexed territories. Another method was to take adoles- 
cents of either sex to forced labour in the Reich and there sub- 
ject them to a Germanization process. 

Whether one of these kidnapped children was to be German- 
ized or not depended, on the results of a selection test to deter- 
mine his racial value, character, ability and psychological qual- 
ities. 

The course and scope of the abductions varied, as did the 
method used, in the annexed territories, the Government Gen- 
eral, and the Reich. There were even local differences in the 
annexed territories — between the districts of Silesia, Poznan, 
Pomerania and Ciechanow. In principle these disparities 
stemmed from the varying attitude of the authorities to the 
local population. For instance, in Silesia the people were regard- 
ed as German and so their children were not taken away and 
sent to the Reich, except at the end of the war; the action was 
confined to taking over Polish orphanages and the removal only 


166 



of children whose parents had refused to be entered on the 
Volksliste. In the Poznan and Pomeranian districts children 
were removed and sent to the Reich. The same practice was 
followed in the Government General, except that the abduc- 
tions were part of the mass deportations and pacification 
actions, the evacuation of children as the army pulled back on 
the eastern front, or the removal of children from schools to- 
wards the end of the war. In the Reich itself any children 
born to parents who had been deported for forced labour were 
taken away if they were regarded as racially valuable. 

The taking over of Polish orphanages was not started right 
after the annexation of the western territories and the taking 
over of the general administrative functions; this step only fol- 
lowed some time later. However, it had been prepared well in 
advance — in some localities (Bydgoszcz and Lodz, for example) 
as early as 1939. All that was done at the beginning was to 
register the children in these homes. It was not till 1940 that 
the individual orphanages were taken over. Time and method 
varied from area to area. Some orphanages were dissolved and 
the children transferred to an institution in the Reich; for 
example, the Bydgoszcz children were taken to a Lebensbom 
institution in Polczyn near Szczecinek. 

Children living with adopted parents were to start with, gen- 
erally left alone and the Germans confined themselves to 
checking that they were not coming under the “influence” of 
their Polish guardians. It was not till the issuance of an order 
on February 19, 1942 by SS Gruppenfiihrer Greifelt, chief of 
the Headquarters of the Reich Commissioner for the Consolida- 
tion of German Nationhood,* that the question of the removal 
and Germanization of children in orphanages or living with 
adopted parents was regulated. 

This order stated that “there are a great number of children 
in Polish orphanages and living with adopted parents who, 

* Order No. 67/1; Main Commission Records, DC 153/7x. 


1«7 



judging by their racial appearance, should be regarded as 
descended from Nordic parents.” All these children should un- 
dergo racial and psychological tests; if these proved that the 
children had blood that was of value to Germanhood they 
should be Germanized. The order went on to specify how these 
tests should be conducted and where pure-bred children should 
be taken to be Germanized: between the ages of two and six 
they should be sent to Lebensbom institutions or to German 
families recommended by these institutions; between the ages 
of six and twelve they should be put in Native Schools after 
the completion of which they should be found homes with 
German families as fully-German children. Children whose 
parents lent themselves to Germanization should not be taken. 
The order did not omit to stress the need for camouflaging this 
whole business: “Special precautions must be taken to prevent 
the phrase ‘Polish children suitable for Germanization’ becom- 
ing publicly known; these children should be described as Ger- 
man orphans from the regained eastern territories.” The reason 
given was that it might harm the child. 

The order was put into effect; racial tests were begun and 
where indicated, children were removed from their adopted 
homes of from orphanages. There were even incidents of chil- 
dren being taken from their parents or from relatives who were 
bringing them up. In the cases of adopted children the tests 
were carried out by doctors from the Health Department with 
every precaution taken that neither the child nor the adopted 
parents realized the object of these tests. Appeals made after 
the removal of the child were either ignored or answered eva- 
sively. The guardians did not discover what had happened to 
the child and where it was until some time had elapsed and the 
child, by now in the Reich, found an opportunity to inform 
them secretly of its whereabouts. 

At the beginning of 1945, as a result of the westward shift 
of the front and the consequent evacuation orders, a certain 


168 



number of children from orphanages were shipped deep into 
the Reich. 

As far as the Government General was concerned this action 
was never undertaken on the same scale nor as systematically 
and thoroughly carried out as in the annexed territories. But 
there were cases of children being taken from orphanages or 
from their adopted homes. For example, the orphans in the 
Evangelical home on Karolkowa Street in Warsaw were sent to 
Piaseczno and in 1944 moved to Karlsbad. 

Youth offices and party social welfare centres (NSV) drew 
up comprehensive lists of semi-orphaned and illegitimate chil- 
dren and children living with Polish guardians in the annexed 
territories. On the basis of these lists frequent checks were 
made to see if these children were not succumbing to the 
influences of their Polish environment. If it was discovered, 
for example, that a mother or guardian spoke Polish with the 
child, either the guardian was replaced by a German, some- 
times by a court order, or the child was taken away and placed 
in a German institution or given to a German family. Illegiti- 
mate and semi-orphaned children, if racial tests proved posi- 
tive, were placed in German institutions. In Poznan Province 
this action was carefully planned, with mothers as well as chil- 
dren undergoing racial tests; if the child was recognized as ra- 
cially sound it was removed and sent to a Lebensborn centre in 
Austria via an institution in Kalisz. 

Already during the early days of the occupation deportations 
were undertaken of Polish families from the annexed territo- 
ries, particularly those who had settled there after the First 
World War, to the Government General. Only those people 
were left whom the Germans imagined would be suitable for 
Germanization. In their case the process of Germanization was 
facilitated by registering them on the German National Lists 
(Volksliste) with particular attention being paid to the children. 
Children recognized as racially valuable were subjected to Ger- 
manization usually by way of the Volksliste. If one of the par- 


169 



ents refused to be entered on the Volksliste, the children and 
the other parent were registered to enable the Germanization 
to be carried out. However, there were many cases when chil- 
dren were compulsorily removed from their parents. Even be- 
fore the Volksliste was formally introduced, Himmler, in a 
decree of September 12, 1940, on examination and selection of 
people in the annexed territories, had given orders to remove 
children from parents who rejected “re-Germanization.” Later 
(Feb. 16, 1942) these orders were extended to include parents 
who were considered “especially compromised politically.” 
Even in cases where the parents had been put down in the 
fourth group of the Volksliste, this latter order of Himmler’s 
called for the removal of their children if it turned out that 
the parents were exerting an “unfavourable influence” on 
their children’s Germanization. They were then placed with 
German families and institutions. This order was later made to 
apply to persons in the third group as well. Thus, in some cases, 
even registration on the Volksliste did not protect parents from 
the abduction of their children. 

In the Government General the procedure was similar in 
cases where parents, who had been recognized by the authori- 
ties as being of German descent, “refused to join the German 
national community.” The children were then forcibly removed 
and placed with a German family in the Government General 
or sent to the Reich. 

In the case of mixed marriages — that is where one of the 
parents was a German or Kusubian, Mazurian or Silesian — the 
parent of Polish origin was compelled to register on the Volks- 
liste; if he refused, the other parent was forced to seek a divorce. 
As a rule the courts granted divorces in these cases or annulled 
the marriage with custody of the children invariably awarded to 
the German party. The principle was that the good of the child 
depended on a German upbringing. Judgments handed down by 
Polish courts up to September 1939 were even rescinded with 
custody of the child being transferred to the parent of German 


170 



descent or family. If this parent was dead the child was given 
either to a German family or a youth office. 

A child could also be forcibly removed if his parents had 
been arrested, or deported to a concentration camp or for forced 
labour in the Reich, in such cases children were taken away 
even if they were living with relatives. The same thing happen- 
ed with children whose parents had been executed. 

This abduction of children reached massive proportions with 
the wholesale deportations of Poles from the Zamosc area, the 
pacifications in that region and other parts of the Government 
General, and the evacuation actions as the German army re- 
treated. 

During the mass deportations from the Zamosc area, described 
in the previous chapter, families were separated and the 
children forcibly removed. In the transit camps in Zamosc, 
Lublin and Zwierzyniec “racial experts” from the RuSHA took 
the opportunity presented by the examinations of deportees to 
conduct selection tests on the children. The children who passed 
these tests were segregated and sent to the annexed territories 
or the Reich to be Germanized; there they were handed over 
to German families or placed in institutions. It is difficult to 
calculate how many of the 30,000 children deported from the 
Zamosc area were removed for Germanization and how many 
were placed together with the aged and the sick in the Renten- 
dorfer. Some idea can be had from a schedule of rail and road 
transports of children from the Zamosc area drawn up by the 
Lublin Branch of the Main Guardianship Council. This only 
covered the period from July 7th to August 25th, 1943. During 
this period there were 29 transports of 4,454 Polish children 
between the ages of two and fourteen. They were sent to Swi- 
noujscie, Halle, Poznan, Strassholf (near Vienna), Lehrte, Wro- 
claw, Bramsdorf, Stargard, Soest, Kelsterbach, Neumark, Wesel, 
Kartnen near Graz, Parchim, Breitigheim, and Brandenburg. 
Accounts given by the transport officers showed that these 
children were either handed over to German families or placed 


171 



in German institutions. The same procedure was followed with 
children whose parents had either been killed or sent to con- 
centration camps during the pacification campaigns. Similarly, 
when the areas behind the retreating German army were being 
evacuated many children and juveniles were shipped deep into 
the Reich, except that the situation was so uncertain that there 
was not time to carry out racial tests, which were postponed 
until the children were in Germany. This action was known as 
Heu-Aktion. 

In 1944 the Germans also began abducting children from 
schools in the Government General. Often as many as several 
dozen children would be taken from a single school. They were 
usually not even allowed to say goodbye to their parents or 
families; a trainload would be collected from the haul of several 
localities and after racial tests taken to the Reich. 

Another method, used with older children, was to separate 
them from their families and send them off for forced labour 
in the Reich. It was mainly girls between the ages of fourteen 
to twenty who fell within the scope of this action; they were 
usually sent to the Reich as domestic help and there subjected 
to a process of Germanization. The areas round Poznan and 
Lodz were the main source. The girls had most often been 
picked up in street round-ups or supplied by labour and social 
welfare offices or the Central Resettlement Office. In this way 
the Nazis managed to combine exploitation of slave labour with 
Germanization. 

All the aforementioned actions had been planned in Ber- 
lin and were carried out according to strictly prescribed di- 
rectives. However, a large number of children were also taken 
away as the result of arbitrary police actions, raids, street 
round-ups, etc., which were not part of the Germanization 
plans. Nevertheless, these children too were sent to the Reich 
or subjected to Germanization or became Germanized as a re- 
sult of the conditions in which they were forced to live. This. 


172 



for instance, is what happened to a number of children deport- 
ed during the Warsaw Uprising. 

All the actions so far described were carried out on Polish 
territory. But in the Reich itself Polish children were also re- 
moved for Germanization. This primarily concerned children 
born in Germany to Polish women who had been deported for 
forced labour. At first no special steps were taken with regard 
to pregnant “eastern workers” — who included Poles — and 
their offspring. There were even cases where pregnant women 
were sent back to their native country for the period of birth. 
However, since these pregnancies temporarily deprived the 
Germans of the full value of the women’s labour and, moreover, 
seeing that the children born to them increased the biological 
strength of nations who did not belong to the Herrenvolk, 
measures began to be taken to stop this “unwelcome” fertility. 
This natural increase could be checked either by abortion or by 
removal of the offspring. But there were laws against abortion 
in force in the Reich. The Reich Minister of Justice, therefore, 
issued an order on March 9, 1943, waiving the penalties for 
abortion in the case of eastern workers who requested such an 
operation. If a woman refused to undergo this operation volun- 
tarily it was simply forced on her. However, before the abortion 
was carried out the identity of the father had to be established 
and also whether the child would be “of good blood.” Orders 
issued by Himmler on June 9, 1943, forbade abortion in cases 
where the father was of German descent and the child might 
be racially valuable. On July 27, 1943, further orders came from 
Himmler which extended this provision to fathers of blood 
close to German ( artsverwandten Blutes ), pointing out that the 
price paid in German blood for the war required that children 
produced by female workers of other nationalities be preserved 
for the German nation. These orders specified precisely the pro- 
cedure to be followed in this type of case. The employer was 
to inform a youth office of pregnancies among his female work- 
ers; the office would then establish the identity of the parent 


173 



and experts from the RuSHA and health department would 
carry out racial tests on the parents. Children of parents who 
passed these tests would be put in the hands of the NSV which 
was then to hand them over to German families or to homes for 
racially valuable children ( Kinderheime fur gutrassige Kin- 
der). Particularly good mothers from the racial point of view 
would be put in under the care of Lebensborn institutions and 
forbidden to take their children back to their own country. At 
the same time it was forbidden to tell the mothers what the 
object of these orders was. Mothers incapable of work and 
their racially worthless children were to be removed ( abgescho - 
ben); most probably this simply meant liquidation. It needs 
hardly be said that the mothers were not asked for their approv- 
al when their children were taken away. 

A decree issued on June 5, 1944, by the Reich Minister of the 
Interior made the youth offices the official guardians of “racial- 
ly sound” children bom by female workers. 

As far as abortion was concerned, no distinction was drawn 
between married and unmarried mothers. 

In the Reich it was not only the children born there who were 
removed but also those who had arrived together with parents 
sent for forced labour (the children of parents deported from 
Volhynia for example). 

What has been described so far was the abduction or adoption 
of Polish children as part of the Germanization campaign. How- 
ever, the mere fact of abduction or adoption did not mean 
that the child would be necessarily Germanized. The touchstone 
was always result of the selection tests except in the case of 
children whose parents had refused to be registered on the 
Volksliste. 

These selection tests consisted primarily of racial and medical 
examinations. These were followed by analyses of the child’s 
character, ability and psychological qualities. The racial tests 
were conducted by specialists ( Eignungspriifer ) from the Main 
Office for Race and Settlement of the SS or sometimes, as in 


174 



Lodz, by doctors from the health department. There were spe- 
cial forms for the tests which contained 62 points concerning 
the child’s physique, shape and colour of the eyes, type of hair, 
etc. This detailed physical description of the child was used to 
establish its racial type. There were 11 racial types and two 
additional ones: negative and positive. The racial type having 
been established, the child was put into one of three categories: 

1. “Desirable natural increase” ( erwiinschter Bevolkerungs- 
zuwachs) 

2. “Tolerable natural increase” ( tragbarer Bevolkerungs- 

zuwachs) 

3. “Undesirable natural increase” ( unerwiinschter Bevolke- 
rungszuwachs). 

Children placed in the third category were not subjected to 
Germanization. This could have spelled a death sentence as 
a result of the bad conditions in the segregated places in which 
they had to live, for example, in concentration camps (the chil- 
dren of “bandits,” children from the Zamosc area put in cate- 
gory IV of the deportations from that region); or it could have 
meant sterilization if one of the parents was Jewish. 

The racial classification was followed by psychological exami- 
nations and tests for character and intelligence. If it transpired 
from these that the child had “bad character or psychological 
propensities” it would be barred from the Germanizing process 
despite its good racial qualities. These tests continued even after 
the child had been handed over to a German family. It can be 
seen that the object was not to establish the German descent of 
the child but to choose children with good physical and mental 
qualities. 

After the test but before they were sent off to the Reich the 
children underwent a preliminary Germanization in institutions 
specially set up for this purpose or in Polish homes taken over 
by the NSV. For the area of the Warta Region for example, 
childrens’ homes of this sort were organized in Poznan, Ludwi- 
kowo, Puszczykowo and Bruczkowo. This latter home was 


175 



moved later to Kalisz where it went on functioning up to 
January 1945. 

After a relatively short stay in these homes the children were 
sent to the Reich — to the “Native Schools” or to institutions 
run by the Lebensbom, SS and NSV, or to other establishments; 
here they underwent Germanization proper. First and foremost 
they were forbidden to speak Polish. If they were caught talk- 
ing Polish they suffered severe punishments such as beating, 
starvation, etc. They were not allowed to have any contact with 
their parents. In fact, the children were told that their parents 
and families were dead. Every means was used to persuade the 
children that they were Germans. To this end they were drafted 
into youth organizations such as the Hitlerjugend or the Bund 
Deutscher Model. All traces of the children’s Polish origin were 
removed; their names were replaced by German ones. Follow- 
ing an order issued by the head of the Race Office in the RuSHA 
the principle was to make the new name as close as possible to 
the old one in derivation and sound; if this was impossible the 
child was given one of the more common German names. It was 
the usual practice to keep the first two or three letters of the 
old name; for instance Kawczynski became Kancmann, Sosnow- 
ska — Sosemann, or it would be translated: Mlynarczyk into 
Muller, Ogrodowczyk into Gartner, etc. Birth certificates and 
descent were changed and forged documents drawn up, particu- 
larly in the case of children taken during the pacification actions 
when neither the date nor the place of birth were known. The 
Germanization institutions also had special registration offices 
so as to prevent parents from being able to trace their children. 

After staying in the Germanization institution the children 
were handed over to German families of confirmed National 
Socialist sympathies who were told that the youngsters were of 
German origin. 

There was a great deal of reluctance to have these children 
legally adopted since the Germans were afraid that certain de- 


176 






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transport ol deportees from the ZamoSt region, some of whom 
were sent to Auschwitz 


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Second sheet of this document 



tails might be revealed in court which would show that the 
children were of Polish origin. 

The treatment of these children by the German families var- 
ied. Normally they told the child to call them “mother” and 
“father” and in many cases, their relations with these children 
whom they imagined to be German left nothing to be desired. 
But there were cases when the children were exploited at work 
and even beaten. It was worse if the parents learned that the 
child was of Polish origin; then it would be humiliated and mis- 
treated on every occasion. 

It is difficult to calculate exactly or even approximately the 
number of children who were Germanized, both those deported 
from Poland to the Reich and those actually born there. All 
that can be done is to give a few fragmentary figures which 
can serve to convey some idea of the scale on which this action 
was conducted in a particular period or in a particular area. 

As already mentioned, the list drawn up by the Lublin Branch 
of the Chief Guardianship Council concerning children involved 
in the mass deportations from the Zamosc area showed that 
between July 7 and August 25, 1943, 4,454 children were sent 
off to be Germanized. 

The investigation of the case of Albert Forster, the ex-Gau- 
leiter of Gdansk and West Prussia, discovered that about 1,600 
children were deported from this province for Germanization. 
However, these figures are not complete, since they do not cover 
the whole of the region. 

What has survived of the records of the NSDAP organization 
for Silesia includes the figure of 3,000 children subjected to 
Germanization. 

The records and files of the Occupation Youth Office in Lodz 
list about 12,000 children put under its legal custody. Of these 
at least 1,200 were deported to Germany, not counting children 
put in homes or handed over to German families. 

The number of children living in Polish homes in the prov- 
inces of Poznan and Lodz (known as the Warta Region) amount- 


12 


177 



ed in 1939 to 5,226. These children underwent selection tests and 
it has been established that over 50 per cent were found racially 
sound and so Germanized. 

In the Reich itself in November 1942 there were 6,818 Polish 
girls “suitable for Germanization” who had been deported there 
for forced labour and were working as domestic help in German 
families. 

After the war, in connection with attempts being made to se- 
cure the return of Polish children from occupied Germany, 
German officials handed over to the American and British au- 
thorities about 40,000 birth certificates of children born to 
Polish women in the former Reich. 

In the trial of officials of the Main Office for Race and Settle- 
ment of the SS before the American Military Tribunal at Nurem- 
berg (Case VIII) it was found that there had been about 92,000 
children in the Lebensborn institutions. As already mentioned 
from Nazi documents it is known that Polish children who were 
to be Germanized were also sent to these institutions. 



Atrocities During the Warsaw Uprising 


“When I heard the news about the uprising in Warsaw I im- 
mediately went to the Fiihrer... I said: ‘My Fiihrer, it is not 
a good time for us. But from the historical point of view it is 
a blessing that the Poles are doing this. After five, six weeks 
we will extricate ourselves from this business. And then War- 
saw, the capital, the head, the brain of this former nation of 16 
or 17 millions will be destroyed, this nation that for 700 years 
has been for us the barrier to the East and ever since the first 
battle of Tannenberg has stood in our path. Then the historical 
Polish problem will cease to be a major problem for our chil- 
dren and for all those who follow us — indeed even for us our- 
selves.’ Then I also issued an order for the complete destruction 
of Warsaw it read: ‘Every block of houses must be burned and 
blown up’... I have somewhat digressed from the subject of 
Warsaw, this huge city which will no longer exist...”* 

This is taken from a speech made by Himmler on September 
21, 1944, in Jagerhohe to the heads of the military areas and 
the commandants of the training schools; it was the sentence 
passed on Warsaw. 

Throughout the occupation, Warsaw, as the largest concentra- 
tion of people in Poland, continued to be the capital, not in the 
formal sense, but as the centre of the national and political 

* Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland, 
Records 1101 z/II t. 17. 


179 



consciousness and the heart of the conspiratorial political, cul- 
tural and intellectual life of the whole nation. It was also the 
capital of the resistance organizations, whatever their political 
shading. 

The Nazi authorities were fully aware of this and so the re- 
pression and terror used against the whole nation was particu- 
larly fierce in Warsaw. The object of this vicious and system- 
atic campaign was to intimidate the whole nation by terrorizing 
the capital, to destroy the leading and most active section of 
the population. In the very first months of the occupation there 
were mass executions in Warsaw; the terror reached its peak 
in 1943-44, while during the Uprising it can only be described 
as the outright slaughter of innocent civilians. 

It was not only the people of Warsaw themselves who suffer- 
ed. The authorities were anxious to deprive the city itself of its 
leading position as the capital of the Polish nation, turn it into 
a min or provincial town and finally destroy it. These intentions 
were realized in part in the spring of 1943 when a whole district 
disappeared with the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto; the 
enormity of devastating the whole city followed during and 
after the Uprising when the Germans drove out the inhabitants 
and plundered anything of the slightest value. 

When the Uprising broke out on August 1, 1944, the local 
authorities did not realize the extent of this operation by the 
Resistance and assumed that the SS, police and gendarmerie 
units stationed in Warsaw would be able to put it down. How- 
ever, when a few hours later they found that the revolt was 
organized and led on military lines, that almost the whole of 
Warsaw was involved and the insurgents were attacking success- 
fully and capturing streets and even whole districts, the author- 
ities called in the Wehrmacht garrison under the command of 
Major-General Stahel of the Luftwaffe, who had been made 
military commander ( Kampfkommandant ) of Warsaw at the 
end of July 1944 in connection with the situation on the eastern 
front. 


180 



When Hitler heard of the uprising, he issued orders that it 
was to be crushed ruthlessly and that Warsaw was to be razed 
to the ground. Although a written copy of this order has never 
been discovered, its existence was attested after the war by 
Generals von dem Bach and Ernst Rode* and other officers 
(for example, Helmut Wagner, leader of one of the platoons of 
the SS Dirlewanger Brigade). The order was passed on to units 
of the Wehrmacht by the Army General Staff and to the SS, 
police and gendarmerie detachments by Himmler; the units of 
other nationalities (the Kaminski brigade and the “Vlasovites”) 
in the pay of the Nazis received their orders from one or the 
other, depending on whether they were attached to the Wehr- 
macht or the SS. 

To suppress the uprising quickly Himmler sent in the SS Dir- 
lewanger Brigade, which was recruited from condemned crimi- 
nals; SS Oberfiihrer Dirlewanger, its commander, was given 
orders to murder the population and destroy Warsaw. This bri- 
gade was already notorious for the atrocities it had committed 
against civilians in the east during its operations against the 
partisans. Himmler also called up the brigade of SS General 
Bronislaw Kaminski, a collection of traitors and renegades, 
sometimes known as the “Ukrainians,” which had also butcher- 
ed its way through anti-partisan campaigns in the occupied 
areas of the Soviet Union. In addition, SS Gruppenfiihrer Heinz 
Reinefarth, the Higher SS and Police Leader of the Warta Re- 
gion, had been ordered to organize a combat group from the 
Wehrmacht, SS and police units stationed in Poznan for action 
in Warsaw. 

These units arrived on August 4, 1944, on the western out- 
skirts of the city (the district of Wola) and were merged into the 

* Rode cross-examined by American counsel at Nuremberg on 
August 14, 1946, testified that the order said: "Warsaw Is to be levelled, 
the uprising is to be suppressed ruthlessly.” Document NI-468. Main 
Commission Records 1101 z/II t. 15. 


181 



“Reinefarth Combat Group” ( Kampfgruppe Reinefarth). On 
August 5th they attacked Wola. 

General Guderian, the chief of the army staff, moved units of 
the Wehrmacht and the “Vlasovites” into Warsaw at the appeal 
of Governor General Frank who was alarmed that the revolt 
might spread to the whole of the Government General. 

All the troops deployed to suppress the Uprising were merged 
into the Korpsgruppe von dem Bach under the command of 
SS Obergruppenfuhrer and Waffen SS and Police General Erich 
von dem Bach-2elewski, leader of the anti-partisan units ( Chef 
der Bandenkampfverbande). This corps was put under the head- 
quarters of the 9th Army (General Nicolaus Vormann and his 
second-in-command General Smilo von Luttwitz) which was 
part of the “Centre” army group (General Model, and later Gen- 
eral Reinehardt). 

The Korpsgruppe von dem Bach was made up of: 

1. The Reinefarth Combat Group — with the shock troops 
(Angriffsgruppe) of SS Obergruppenfuhrer Dirlewanger, Major 
Reck and Colonel Schmidt, and reserve and rearguard units. This 
group struck through Wola towards Victory Square and on to 
the Vistula, the Old Town, Powisle and Czerniakow. 

2. The Combat Group of Major-General Rohr — made up of 
Wehrmacht units, Warsaw SS and police units, the Kaminski 
Brigade and other smaller units. They operated in Ochota, Mo- 
kotow, around Unia Lubelska Square (Szucha Avenue — the so- 
called police district), Czemiakdw and PowiSle. 

3. The Combat Group of the Wehrmacht garrison under Ma- 
jor-General Stahel operating around Victory Square. 

In addition, at the beginning of the Uprising there were units 
from the Hermann Goring armoured division; at the end of 
September, the 9th Army sent in the 19th armoured division 
of general Hans Kallner and Luftwaffe squadrons under Gen- 
eral Ritter von Greim. 

The troops used against the Uprising were made up of at least 
300 different units, some of them only in platoon strength, be- 


182 



longing to the Wehrmacht, SS police, foreign mercenary corps, 
the SA, the Werkschutz, railwaymen, post-office workers, etc.* 

The atrocities committed during the Uprising, became of their 
extent and ferocity, form a separate chapter in the grim chroni- 
cle of Nazi crimes in Poland. The victims were mostly innocent 
civilians, regardless of age and sex, who had taken no part in 
the partisan operations. The crimes were various. The biggest 
toll was taken by the meticulously planned mass executions in 
which machine-guns, small arms and grenades were used and 
the victims were first robbed of their valuables. When the Ger- 
mans were setting fire to the city, there were incidents of people 
being thrown into the flames alive. It was not only personal 
property that suffered at German hands; they looted and wreck- 
ed the equipment of hospitals, old people’s homes, public insti- 
tutions, etc. Patients in hospitals, old women and young girls 
were brutally raped. The demolition of the city was carried out 
systematically, with some districts being burned and blown up 
house by house. Many of the insurgents captured during the 
fighting were murdered, and among these were Polish and So- 
viet prisoners-of-war. 

It is difficult to give an account of all the atrocities, since in 
many cases there were no survivors and the authorities did their 
best to wipe out the traces of their butchery by burning the 
corpses and anything that might later be a clue to the number 
killed. 

Evidence of these crimes has come primarily from eye-wit- 
nesses who miraculously managed to escape a particular massa- 
cre and from people who were forced to carry out some job in 
a given area and saw the place of execution and its victims — 
for example, men from the Verbrennungskommando employed 
to bum the bodies of those murdered. The scope of this book 
however makes it impossible to describe all these crimes, which 

* General Vormann’s report to the headquarters of the “centre” 
army group on September 18, 1944. 


183 



could not even be excused on the grounds of military necessity; 
there is room only for the biggest and most brutal atrocities 
committed in several districts of the city. 

The greatest number of shootings, which were really nothing 
but mass slaughter, took place in Wola. 

On August 1, 1944, the insurgents did not succeed either 
in getting control of the whole district or in seizing all their 
objectives. In the first place, Wola being on the outskirts of 
the city, contained a large number of factories and so was heav- 
ily guarded by the Wehrmacht and units of the regular indus- 
trial defence organization such as the Werkschutz and Bahn- 
schutz. In addition, the main east-west highway ran through 
Wola, and down it there passed regular convoys of troops to the 
eastern front. To this had to be added the insurgents’ lack of 
equipment, the Germans’ considerable superiority in fire power 
and reverses in Kolo, Urlychow and Boernerowo; as a result of 
all this the Poles could only gain control of the centre of Wola, 
which was nearer the city centre, with most of the area still in 
German hands. For the civilians, this first day on the whole 
passed quietly. 

On the second day the Germans, supported by tanks, counter- 
attacked and pushed the insurgents back from Magistracka, Za- 
globa and Zawisza streets. They began burning the houses they 
took while the residents were herded into the streets, and many 
were killed by bullets or grenades. An eye-witness of the 
slaughter on Zawisza Street described it later in court: 

“On August 2, the insurgents pulled back from their positions. 
The Germans entered our building through the garden from the 
Magistracka Street side. There were ten German soldiers and 
Ukrainians armed with grenades. At the time, I was standing 
in a group of 18 men and about ten women at the foot of the 
stairs. The Germans ordered us all to go outside. At the same 
time two of the Germans led one of the occupants of our house — 
Marian Kowalski — out of the downstairs flat; in the garden 
a soldier shot him in the back of the head killing him on the 


184 



spot. Then about 18 of us men were stood in the corner of the 
garden between the front of the house and the annex. The wom- 
en, standing in the courtyard, were allowed to go out into the 
street. Then on the orders of a German, one of the Ukrainians 
threw two grenades at us. After the first we all threw ourselves 
onto the ground and I heard the death cries of those lying around 
me. After the second grenade there was silence, and I realized 
that everyone had been killed. I was wounded in the face and 
left arm but did not lose consiousness. As I lay on the ground I 
saw the Germans moving about the house and dragging out all 
the men still inside. I saw one of the Ukrainians lead out a 
77-year-old man who lived in the house, propel him to where 
we were lying and shoot him in the face with his revolver. The 
old man fell dead. Then the same Ukrainian led out four other 
tenants (one of them was Jozef Wozniak; I did not know the 
names of the others) and shot them in the face, one after the 
other, near where I was lying. Then the Germans and Ukrain- 
ians left our place. I picked myself up and saw that my compan- 
ions were all lying dead; most of them had had their heads 
blown off and their brains were spattered... All of them simply 
lived in the house, all were civilians who had not taken part in 
the Uprising.”* 

In other streets too, the strongholds and barricades of the 
insurgents were attacked, with the Germans often using the 
civilians as a human rampart against the insurgents’ fire. People 
were dragged out of their homes, some of the women and chil- 
dren were sent to the Church of St. Wojciech, and a number 
of the men were forced to dismantle the barricades; the houses 
were set on fire. Many persons were shot and women were freely 
raped. 

On the third and fourth day the attack continued, mainly with 
the support of tanks, driving the insurgents from their positions 

* Testimony of Kazimlerz Szajewski, Main Commission Records 1100 
2/V p. 968. 


1S5 



all the way to Mlynarska Street. Civilians were often driven in 
front of the tanks as cover. A large number of people, most of 
them young men, were shot and houses were systematically set 
on fire. 

However, the slaughter of these four days cannot be described 
as a mass extermination action despite the number of civilians 
who perished. 

In the morning of August 5 the Reinefarth Combat Group, 
the Wehrmacht units and the Vlasovites from the 9th Army, 
all of whom had arrived the preceding day, went into action 
alongside the local units. There was fierce fighting all day along 
Mlynarska Street. 

In the areas already taken, where there was no fighting, the 
Germans began a deliberate action of murdering civilians and 
prisoners, and leveling the buildings, in obedience to Hitler’s 
and Himmler’s orders to destroy the city and kill its inhab- 
itants. 

After surrounding the whole area, detachments of troops burst 
into the houses and drove out the residents into the courtyards. 
Rifle fire and grenades were poured into the gateways, cellars, 
windows and courtyards. Those who were too slow to get out 
of the houses or tried to shelter in cellars or attics were killed 
on the spot. After the houses were cleared and looted, they 
were set on fire. The people gathered in the courtyards were 
robbed of the valuables and effects they had managed to save, 
and then grenaded or shot. Sometimes the victims were herded 
into cellars and grenades were thrown into them. Anyone who 
showed any signs of life after the executions, was finished off. 
No distinction was made as to age, sex, occupation or health. 

These were the “minor” executions; but there was also mass 
murder in specially chosen places like public squares, factory 
yards, the ruins of bumed-out houses, etc. All day long succes- 
sions of people were herded into them from various blocks and 
streets and shot with machine guns or small arms. In this way 
the Germans murdered whole families and the occupants of 


186 



separate houses, blocks and streets. The bodies piled up to a 
height of several metres. A number of corpses were burned 
together with the houses. To rub out the traces of these appall- 
ing crimes a special brigade of workers was formed from Polish 
men who were forced to dump the bodies in one place, pour 
some inflammable liquid over them and set fire to these massive 
pyres. This operation went on for several days. After the war 
several such sites were found where there had been a mass burn- 
ing of bodies and in some of them a large amount of ash and 
charred bones was found. 

One of the mass execution sites was the square bordering on 
the railings of Sowihski Park (1/3 Elekcyjna Street). The execu- 
tion went on from 10 a. m. until the late evening. The victims 
were the occupants of houses at 129 and 132 Wolska Street, 
1/3, 4, 6 and 8 Elekcyjna Street, and on Ordon Street. They were 
brought to the place of execution in groups, the women and 
children separated from the men and shot with machine guns 
mounted facing the railings. After each shooting the wounded 
were finished off and a new group was lined up. After the 
execution was over the bodies were taken into Sowihski Park 
and burned, with the ashes buried in two graves. There is an 
affidavit describing this execution from an eye-witness, Wacla- 
wa Szlachta:* 

“On August 5, 1944 at 10 a.m. a squad of German troops burst 
into the courtyard of our house. The soldiers were similarly 
uniformed to those who had carried out a search the night be- 
fore. We were told in the house that it was the gendarmerie. 
There were several dozen of them, they talked German and 
were armed with sub-machine guns and grenades. Our house 
was a large one and there were over 150 apartments in it. The 
landlord, J6zef Hankiewicz, had told me that before the Upris- 
ing there had been over 600 tenants. I do not know exactly how 
many people there were in our house on August 5, but at a rough 

* Main Commission Records 1100/z/V p. 981. 


187 



calculation I would say that over 500 people came out of the 
house. They included men, women and children. A few sick 
people stayed behind: the chemist Danowski, a woman whose 
name I cannot remember and a group of people who hid in the 
garden at the back of the house. I heard later that the group 
in the garden were shot on Ordon Street. I do not know what 
happened to the people in bed; all I do know is that so far there 
has been no trace of either the chemist or the woman. I went 
out with my husband, Michal, b. 1895, my sons, Jozef, b. 1921, 
and Marian, b. 1923, and my daughters, Lucyna, b. 1926, and 
Alina, b. 1928. We went out into the courtyard where the gen- 
darmes told us and the other occupants to go out on Wolska 
Street, cross the road and stop by Sowinski Park. Men were 
separated from the women, and boys of about fourteen were 
removed from their mothers; we were drawn up against the 
railings of Sowinski Park in a line from the gate towards Elek- 
cyjna Street as far as the site of the stone cross. Women and 
small children stood between the gate and the seventh post of 
the railings counting from the gate, then came the boys and 
men. Standing by the railings I saw that a machine gun had been 
mounted on the pavement of Wolska Street, just at the corner 
of our house, at the corner of Wolska and Ordon streets. A sec- 
ond machine gun was standing under a tree (which is still there) 
in front of our house, about 10 metres away from Ordon Street 
in the direction of Prqdzynski Street. A bit further away I saw 
a third machine gun, but I do not remember today the exact 
place. All I know is that is was on Wolska Street, near our 
house, closer to Prqdzyriski Street. The German soldiers opened 
fire on us with these machine guns. I did not recognize the 
squad of soldiers who fired and I cannot describe their uniforms. 
I heard shouts in German from their direction. I fell to the 
ground by the second post of the railings, counting from the 
gate. I was unhit. Bodies fell across my legs. My youngest 
daughter Alina was lying next to me still alive. Lying on the 
pavement I could see and hear the German soldiers walking 


188 



among those on the ground and kicking them to see if anyone 
was alive. Those who were, they finished off with one shot from 
their revolvers. I was on my stomach but my head was propped 
on a food basket and so I could more or less make out what was 
happening. In this way I was able to see a German soldier (I do 
not know what unit he was from) kick the woman next to me 
who was still alive and then shoot her. Then I saw him move 
to a pram in which the several months-old twins of my neigh- 
bour, Jakubczyk, were lying and shoot them. All the time I could 
hear the groans of the dying. I learned later that immediately 
after us the Germans shot the occupants of the courthouse on 
Elekcyjna 1/3 (corner of Wolska)... After lunch — I do not know 
the time exactly — a German finished off my daughter Alina. 
I lay there till evening. At about 8 p.m., maybe a little earlier, 
at any x-ate the sun was going down, a German soldier ordered 
everyone who was alive to stand up and said that they would 
not be shot. Later I realized and was told by others that the 
man who had told us to stand up was a gendarme. He said that 
some of us had been shot because there was a revolution in 
Warsaw. Out of the group from our house, five women includ- 
ing me and five children got up...” 

Another scene of slaughter was the open space in front of the 
foi'ge at 120-124 Wolska Street. Here the occupants of Nos. 
112-126 and 113-127 Wolska Sti'eet were shot. In the morning 
of August 5 units of the SS, gendarmerie and “Vlasovites” 
sealed off Wolska Sti*eet and from 10 a.m. began brutally drag- 
ging out the occupants of the houses, and, while yelling and 
shooting herded them into the open space in front of the forge 
and told them all to lie down. When it was full of people they 
opened fire with machine guns and small arms and threw gre- 
nades. After shooting one gi'oup and finishing off the wounded, 
a second was gathered and murdered in the same way. The 
execution went on till about 6 p.m. When it was over, a large 
number of wounded were finished off by the gendarmes, and 
Poles fi'om the Verbrennungskommando piled the corpses into 


189 



two heaps about 20 X 15 metres which were then burned. A de- 
scription of this execution appeared in an affidavit made by an 
eye-witness, Jan Grabowski:* 

“Between 10 and 11 a.m. of August 5, 1944, about 100 German 
gendarmes entered the courtyard and drew up in a gauntlet 
from the courtyard into Wolska Street, all the way to the 
forge which was situated further up the street, at No. 124, 
almost opposite our house. They were all armed with sub-ma- 
chine guns, rifles with fixed bayonets and grenades. In the 
courtyard they shouted for us to come out of the house. Men, 
women and children came out and all were driven to the open 
space by the forge. I came out with my wife, Franciszka, aged 
33, my daughter Irena, 4, and my son Zdzislaw, 5 months. In the 
open space in front of the forge we were all told to lie down. 
The group from our house numbered about 500. By the time I 
arrived with my family in front of the forge, there were already 
a number of people either from our house or from others lying 
on the ground. As I lay I saw a machine gun being mounted on 
the site of a bumed-out house about 5 or 10 metres from the 
people on the ground. Suddenly the Germans opened fire with 
this machine gun and sub-machine guns and threw grenades 
into the crowd of people lying on the ground. After a little while 
the firing stopped and the Germans brought up another group. 
I heard some women among the newcomers ask “what house are 
you from?” but I did not hear the answer and I do not know 
from what house these persons had been collected. I did not 
notice how many there were in this group. These people lay 
down in the open space and the shooting started again, and with 
intervals, for finishing off those who were still alive, went on 
for at least 6 hours. A gendarme trampled over me; I myself 
was unwounded, my wife and children had been killed. I heard 
the gendarme give an order to shoot my 5-month-old son, who 
was crying, after which I heard a shot and the child was silent... 

• Main Commission Records 1100/z/V p. 1019. 


190 



Lying on the ground I pretended to be dead; after some time 
the shooting stopped and solitary gendarmes moved around 
those on the ground finishing off, as I described, those who 
were still alive; a gendarme stamped over me three times. Then 
I heard something said in Polish and I thought that the gen- 
darmes had gone; however, I realized that these were Polish 
workers brought by the Germans to remove the cases and 
bundles of the victims. After some time the same group of 
workers returned to take away the bodies; behind them came 
the gendarmes who were still finishing off anyone who moved 
or showed any other sign of life. Then I heard the Polish work- 
ers call out that anyone who was still alive should get up and 
that he would not be killed, that some German had arrived with 
these orders. I did not believe this and stayed on the ground 
until the workers removing the bodies came for me. Then I got 
up, helped the workers carry a body and went on doing this 
till the job was over. We piled up the bodies in two heaps, and 
continued carrying them until dusk. One pile was 20 metres 
long, the other about 15 metres; their width was about 10 metres 
and height up to IV 2 metres (as high as the bodies could be 
thrown)...” 

In the “Ursus” factory yard at 55 Wolska Street, on the 
corner of Skierniewicka Street, units of the SS, gendarmerie 
and “Vlasovites” butchered civilians taken from the houses on 
Plocka, Dzialdowska, Wolska, Sokolowska, Skierniewicka and 
Wawelberg streets. Amid shouting, beating and shots, groups 
of people were lined up against the factory walls where they 
were robbed of their baggage, valuables and money. By the 
gate itself they were divided into threes and fours and every 
so often the gate would open and a number of these groups 
would be pushed inside. Between the gate and the execution 
site there was a gauntlet of SS men and Vlasovites. Soldiers 
followed each group, pushed into the yard, and shot them in the 
back of the head at the execution site. After the shooting of 
each group the wounded were finished off. These executions 


191 



lasted till late evening. In the factory yard there were piles of 
dead about 20 metres long and 2 metres high. The bodies of the 
murdered victims were burned a few days after the execution. 
Only a few of those shot managed to save their lives. One of 
them, Zofia Staworzynska, has described this slaughter in an 
affidavit:* 

“I had been living in Warsaw since 1941 at 18 Wawelberg 
Street, flat 20... At about 1 p. m. on August 5, 1944, SS men 
and Ukrainians entered our courtyard and ordered all the occu- 
pants to leave the house immediately. There was a terrible 
commotion and scramble. Those who came out, including 
children, had to walk with their hands above their heads. To- 
gether with my daughter Alina, 11, I left the house with the 
other occupants, numbering about 150 persons. The Germans 
marched us along Dzialdowska Street towards Wolska Street. 
The houses on either side of the street had already been burned 
and their occupants driven out. On Wolska Street the Ger- 
mans halted us in front of the gates of the 'Ursus’ factory, which 
was a branch of a factory in the town of Ursus. Apart from our 
group I saw no Poles in front of the gates, but there was a large 
number of SS men, Ukrainians and lorries. In front of the 
gates we were drawn up by families. The gates were open, and 
when I looked in, I saw heaps of bodies in the courtyard, civil- 
ians and Ukrainians. I heard shots and screams. I realized that 
the same fate was awaiting us. All the while the Germans were 
driving Poles inside by groups, and after about an hour’s wait 
it was my turn. I went inside with my daughter and two chil- 
dren who had attached themselves to me (Krystyna Kaczmarek 
whose parents had been out and Zygmunt Urlich whose parents 
and 3-month-old brother had been shot outside the gates). In 
the courtyard, as soon as we entered the gate, we began stumbl- 
ing over piles of bodies while under the left wall and by the 
side of the factory the bodies were lying heaped one on top of 

• Main Commission Records 1100/z/V p. 1034. 


192 



Um dieFreiheitdesWartheg, 



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Hlowing up of the Royal 
Castle in Warsaw during 
the Uprising 



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The ruins of Warsaw 



the other in various positions. Behind each person pushed into 
the yard there followed an SS man and Ukrainian who shot 
them in the back of the head with a revolver. I turned to a 
Ukrainian who was stroking my daughter’s hair and begged 
him to let us go. The Ukrainian then turned to his colleague 
and repeated my appeal in Polish. However, he refused to agree 
pointing at us and saying something about polnische Banditen. 
My daughter took my hand and we walked in the direction of 
the wall. When we were by the wall shots were fired at us. The 
first shot hit me in the neck. I fell and was hit three more 
times, once in the arm and twice near the heart. My daughter 
fell next to me, I heard another shot almost immediately, after 
which my daughter lay still. All the while more groups of Poles 
were being brought in, but I do not know how often. I do not 
know how long this went on since I was completely delir- 
ious. In the intervals between the shootings and just before 
evening the SS men and Ukrainian moved around finishing off 
the wounded (they finished off my daughter and the person 
lying next to me) and removing their jewellery. Trampling over 
me they broke my left arm (the one where I was wounded) and 
my right collar bone, and tore my ring off my fingers. 

“In the evening everything grew quiet... The next day (Sun- 
day) I got up and looking around me walked over the site. 

I counted the bodies lying in the yard, there were about 6,000. 
There were no Germans or Ukrainians in the yard.” 

In the Franaszek factory at 43 Wolska Street, the Germans 
shot a large number of civilians from neigbouring streets who 
in the first days of the Uprising had taken refuge in the concrete 
air-raid shelters belonging to the factory. Some of the people 
from the factory — a group of about 200, mainly women and 
children — were taken to the tram depot at 2 Mlynarska Street 
and there, together with people brought from Mlynarska Street, 
were shot. In an affidavit Janina Roziriska, one of the survivors 
of the 200 from the Franaszek factory described the execution.* 

* Main Commission Records 1100/z/V p. 1056. 


13 


103 



“In the confusion people were running around blindly and 
the SS men were driving those running down Wolska Street 
towards the tram depot on Mlynarska... In the tram depot 
I found myself together with my children among a crowd of 
about 200 persons, mainly women and children and pregnant 
women who had been driven here from the Franaszek factory 
shelter and Wolska Street. The group stood crushed together 
on Mlynarska Street by the depot lavatories. Around the group 
stood about 40 SS soldiers and soldiers in uniforms which did 
not have the SS emblem. Nearby there stood a machine gun, 
but I cannot describe just where because of all the things 
passing through my mind at the time. The Germans opened 
fire from the machine gun on our huddled group. After the 
first bursts the wounded began to pick themselves up from 
among the mass on the ground whereupon the Germans threw 
hand grenades into the throng. I saw one of the pregnant 
women who had been wounded in the belly spew out her child 
and one of the Germans come up, take the living infant and, 
laying it on a piece of iron, stab it with a bit of wire. I was by 
the wall of the lavatories with my children. My son had been 
badly wounded in the first burst in the back of the head. I had 
been wounded by a grenade in both legs and stomach. My 
daughter had been wounded in the legs, stomach and chest. 
When everyone in the group had fallen, the Germans stood in 
front of us and began firing at the wounded when they tried 
to get up or moved. Until dusk the Germans went on moving 
around those on the ground, firing at anyone who stirred and 
joking and laughing when he was hit. At dusk I managed to 
crawl into the lavatories with my son and daughter and with 
16-year-old Jadwiga Perkowska who was wounded in the leg. 
My son was only barely alive...” 

Another large group of civilians was shot in a small open 
space, on the corner of Gorczewska and Zagloba streets, sur- 
rounded by burning houses. This group had previously been 
driven from the streets in the area into a locomotive factory 


194 



on Moczydlo Street. Among them were doctors, hospital attend- 
ants and patients from Wola Hospital on Plocka Street. After 
robbing them of their effects the Germans took them in groups 
of varying size to the site on Gorczewska Street and there shot 
them. When the yard piled up with bodies, the victims were 
forced to climb up on top of them and were shot there. The 
shooting went on until the late evening. When night fell a few 
of the wounded managed to scramble out of the pile of bodies. 
One of these witnesses, Father Bernard Filipiuk, has described 
the slaughter in an affidavit: 

“When the Uprising broke out I was in Wola Hospital fol- 
lowing an operation... On August 5 the Germans again entered 
the hospital, this time in a larger number, filling the hall and 
corridors. Among them were Ukrainians and Georgians with 
‘Georgen’ written on their armbands. These were the frontline 
troops making up the Eastern legions in the service of the Ger- 
mans. At about 1 p. m. a German officer with two SS men 
entered the office of the hospital’s director, Dr. Piasecki, who 
was there with Dr. Zejland and the hospital chaplain. After 
asking who was the doctor in charge and who the other two 
were, the officer personally shot all three of them... After we 
had all been forced to leave the hospital we were taken under 
close escort along Plocka Street towards the railway viaduct. 
As we made our way down Gorczewska Street I saw that there 
were bodies lying outside every house. In front of some of the 
houses there were the charred bodies of children, women, men 
and old people. All the houses had been burned. Just past the 
railway viaduct I saw a great many Polish men, women and 
even children lying around the parapet and among them suit- 
cases, briefcases and other baggage. On the parapet on the 
other side stood a machine gun which had presumably been 
used to shoot these people. We were ordered to turn left — 
I think into Magistracka Street — and led along the railway line 
into the yard of some factory. We were crowded into the 
factory’s two large shops and told to squat on the ground. 


195 



After a while a large batch of persons was brought in — from 
Dzialdowska Street, the houses on Wawelberg and other 
streets, I gathered. Soon afterwards a group of men and women 
arrived in a number of lorries. The factory was so congested 
that there was no room for anyone to sit. Between 2 and 3 p. m. 
some Gestapo men entered the factory and straightaway began 
picking out anyone who looked fit. They were taken outside, 
drawn up in fours and marched off somewhere under heavy 
escort. The Gestapo men announced that they had been taken 
off to dismantle the barricades. This selection of the fit went 
on until about 4 p. m. At about 4.30—5 p. m. the Gestapo men 
took the first batch of sick people from the factory. Not long 
afterwards they came for a second batch which included me. 
We were taken to the factory yard and drawn up in fours in 
groups of twelve. I counted six such groups of twelve in the 
batch of people among whom I was. The Gestapo men told us to 
hand over our watches, rings, fountain pens and anything else 
of value. They placed these articles on some upturned packing 
case. I saw a very large number of watches and other bits and 
pieces on this case. I myself put my watch and fountain pen in 
the bottom packet of my cassock and did not hand them over, 
thinking the watch might enable my family to identify my 
body. We were sure that we were going to our death just like 
the preceding batch from the factory. I was wearing my cassock 
and the slippers which the nurse had taken from my room in the 
hospital after I had gone and given to me in the factory. We 
were led back along the same street by the railway line down 
which we had marched to the factory in the direction of the 
viaduct. Along the whole route soldiers were posted on both 
sides of the street at intervals of about ten metres with their 
rifles covering us. In addition, each twelve was escorted by 
Gestapo men with drawn revolvers. We were taken across Gor- 
czewska Street to the other side just by the railway line. I think 
it was No. 35 because that is what I was told a year later in 


196 



hospital. This was on the right side of Gorczewska Street just 
next to the railway track, but beyond it coming from Plocka 
Street. Today a memorial cross marks the spot. The place of 
execution was a large courtyard with the railway tracks on the 
right, a burning house opposite and another burning building 
on the left. When we entered the courtyard we found there 
were a few of the groups of twelve that had been taken from 
among the sick and healthy in the factory before us, still await- 
ing their death. I furtively took the watch out of the deep 
pocket of my cassock and saw that it was 7.30. The twelves 
were continuously being taken and shot. The order to fire was 
given by a Gestapo man. Three soldiers with riot guns were 
standing at the front of the courtyard and fired when given the 
order. I walked past them and distinctly saw that all three 
were wearing German uniforms and that one of them seemed 
to have a Mongoloid face. I do not know if they were Germans 
or some other nationality. I stood in the courtyard for perhaps 
15 to 20 minutes and clearly saw each group of twelve in front 
of me executed by being shot in the back. I also saw the Gesta- 
po man after each burst finish off the wounded with his revol- 
ver, shooting them in the head. About three-quarters of the 
courtyard was now covered with bodies and some of those by 
the blazing buildings were burning. As we waited for our 
imminent death, Father Zychon, a missionary from Cracow 
who had been a patient in the hospital, gave us all general 
absolution and then I heard his confession, after which, at the 
request of one of the sick, we all said a final Our Father aloud. 
As we reached the last words our Gestapo man shouted for us 
to move forward. A moment later I heard in German: “Fire!” 
There was a burst and I fell over together with Father Zychon 
who had been holding me up all the time as I was weak after 
my operation. He dragged me down with him. I realized at once 
that I was still alive and unwounded, but I pretended to be 
dead since I knew that the Gestapo man finished off those still 
alive. When he came to me he kicked me in the knee, cursed 


197 



and fired at my head — the bullet passed by my ear. This was 
how I was saved. After this the next twelves were shot. In one 
of them a woman fell with her forehead on my legs. After a 
few more twelves had been shot she began screaming that she 
was alive and unwounded. One of the soldiers in the firing 
squad ran up and fired a burst at her with his riot gun. I could 
see this because I was lying in such a position with my head 
turned towards my legs that I could watch the execution 
without being seen. All the time I was terrified that a stray 
bullet might hit me since during the shooting their fire took in 
the bodies on the ground. I lay like this in constant fear of 
death until 11.30 p. m. of August 5, 1944. At this point the 
shooting stopped and the three executioners, lighting cigarettes 
went off towards Gorczewska Street and stood on the parapet 
by the entrance into the tunnel. I began crawling amongst the 
bodies towards the house in front of which we had been shot... 
There had been a woman among my twelve. In her arms she 
was holding a child which might have been a year old. She had 
been shot with this child. She had begged the Gestapo man to 
shoot the child first and then her. He smiled and said nothing. 
The child was still whimpering and crying long after the 
shooting; I could hear it and the sound froze my blood. The 
Nazi executioners must also have heard it... I know that they 
shot the doctors from Wola Hospital because I saw them after 
they had been shot... According to my calculations — and I saw 
the whole courtyard covered with bodies from the house into 
which I had crawled — about 2,000 persons were shot...” 

In a macaroni factory at 60 Wolska Street, civilians brought 
in groups were machine-gunned. The bodies were piled one 
metre high. One of the survivors of this execution, Wladyslaw 
Pec, has described it in an affidavit:* 

“I was in the cellar of 25 Plocka Street and realizing that there 
were mass executions taking place in Nos. 23,25, and 31, 1 man- 

* Main Commission Records 1100/z/V p. 1067. 


198 



aged to escape into the macaroni factory at 60 Wolska Street, 
only because the factory abutted on our house. In the cellar of 
the factory I found a congested crowd of civilians, most of them 
women and children. At about noon on August 5, 1944, the 
Germans set fire to the factory, the cellar became too hot, the 
civilians went out — 57 men and a slightly larger number of 
women and children. I and ten other men remained in hiding 
in the cellar; but after a while the gendarmes searching the 
cellar with the help of a dog found us and dragged us out. I saw 
a crowd standing in the middle of the courtyard into which the 
Germans ferreting around the site drove everybody they found 
hiding. By the gate a machine gun was mounted on a tripod. 
The officer in charge of the gendarmes gave orders to separate 
the men from the women. A higher-ranking officer of the gen- 
darmerie arrived and consulted with the officer in charge of 
the group for about ten minutes after which the women were 
told to go out into Wolska Street and proceed to the Church 
of St. Wojciech. My wife, who had been ordered by the Wehr- 
macht to go to the church at 10.30 a.m. on August 4 (which 
saved her life), was already in the church. She told me that the 
group of women from the macaroni factory never reached the 
church and to this day none of them has ever been found. From 
Poles employed by the Gestapo to burn the bodies in Wola, 
I learned that the group of women and children from the maca- 
roni factory (over 60 in number) had been shot that same day in 
the square opposite St. Wojciech’s in a spot now marked by 
a cross. After the women had left the courtyard, we men were 
told to stand by the wall with our hands raised; then there was 
a series of bursts from the machine gun aimed at our heads. 
I was hit in the right arm near the elbow... I was covered with 
blood from my raised arm and fell. When the bursts and groans 
died down I heard single shots being fired. The gendarmes mov- 
ed around the bodies prodding them with their boots to see if 
anyone was still alive, after which they finished him off with 
a single shot. The place was full of gendarmes and the execu- 


199 



tions were carried out by about six of them, one of whom operat- 
ed the machine gun. After some time, while lying with my face 
covered by my bleeding arm, I heard noises from the direction 
of the street, then bursts of firing, groans, appeals for mercy, 
and single shots. I realized that a new group had arrived to be 
shot. After this five more groups were brought for execution, 
and two bodies fell on top of me. The executions went on until 
6 p.m., with intervals for finishing off the wounded and bring- 
ing in new groups...” 

On Plocka Street, civilians from the surrounding houses were 
herded into No. 23 and machine-gunned. Some of the bodies 
were taken into the yard of the “Ursus” factory and burned 
there. Stanislaw Biernacki has described this execution in an 
affidavit: 

“We were hiding in the corridor together with the occupants 
of the whole house. The Germans were throwing grenades into 
some of the rooms on the ground floor. Then all of us were 
ordered to go out into the courtyard and line up in three ranks, 
with the men separate from the women and children. The men 
were on the right, the women and children on the left. One of 
the Germans brought a machine gun on a fruit and vegetable 
barrow and mounted it opposite the lined up occupants of the 
house. Five Germans stood by the gate, the rest formed up on 
the garden side. The German who had set up the machine gun 
spat and went off. Presumably he was unable to work it. A sec- 
ond soldier came up; he was tall, freckled, round-faced, red- 
haired, wearing a tunic, trousers, and a forage cap on his head; 
he pulled the trigger and let off three bursts at the men and 
women and children. At the moment the German pulled the 
trigger I ducked into the window of the caretaker’s room and 
tumbled in; I hid under the bed. I heard one of the Germans 
walking along the ranks of the murdered victims and finishing 
off with his rifle those who still showed signs of life. After 
a few minutes there was silence and I came out of my hiding- 


200 



place in the caretaker’s room. I scrambled over the bodies of 
the occupants of the house...” 

These have all been examples of large-scale butchery at spe- 
cially selected places; but on August 5, 1944, the Germans also 
shot smaller groups of civilians. The sites included Nos. 151, 
143, 105, 109, 101, 78 and 4 Wolska Street, the church of St. 
Wawrzyniec (St. Laurence), Gorczewska Street, and Staszica 
Street. A great many more people were shot in their homes, in 
cellars, attics, on staircases; many perished in the flames of the 
blazing houses. In the case of a number of murders, particularly 
those committed on a smaller scale, the Germans left no trace 
of their crime. 

On the night of August 5-6, after capturing the position in 
which the insurgents were holding out on the corner of Mly- 
narska and Wolska streets the whole of Wolska street and the 
area around it passed into German hands. In the newly taken 
area the civilians became the victims of further atrocities. Sol- 
diers burst into the buildings, threw grenades and fired into the 
hallways and flats. Many people were killed on staircases, in 
the cellars and out in the courtyards. Even people jumping out 
of their burning homes were fired at. For example, 100 people 
in the cellar of 26 Wolska Street were killed with grenades. 
100 men were shot in the back of the neck on Mlynarska Street, 
all the occupants of the neighbouring houses were shot in 90 
Krochmalna Street. 

On the evening of August 5 and throughout the following 
night the St. Lazarus Hospital, situated between Wolska, Karol- 
kowa and Leszno streets, was the scene of an atrocious massacre. 
In the wards there were about 300 sick, about 300 wounded, the 
hospital staff and about 600 civilians who had taken refuge in 
the hospital. Units of the SS, gendarmerie and Vlasovites enter- 
ed the first hospital building from the Wolska Street side. After 
robbing everyone of their valuables and watches, they murdered 
almost all the patients who had been taken down into the shel- 
ter, as well as the patients and others in the wards, using gre- 


201 



nades and rifles. The same thing happened to those in the other 
hospital buildings. In the main building on Leszno Street every- 
one was driven out into the courtyard and shot against the 
wall or in the cellars. The seriously ill who could not move 
were murdered in their beds. An account of the massacre in the 
cellars was given in an affidavit by one of the survivors, Maria 
Kamiriska.* 

“On August 4, 1944 I was in the St. Lazarus Hospital as a pa- 
tient... Standing up I could see the soldiers firing and throwing 
grenades through the windows of the shelter in which the se- 
riously ill were lying. After a while several persons in our group 
were ordered to go down to the cellar next to the one from 
which we had been taken. Immediately afterwards they started 
taking people in small groups. I was the last in my group. When 
my turn came, as I walked down the stairs I knew what was 
going to happen. There was a light on in the cellar. Along the 
corridor here there were several rooms. As I came down the 
stairs I saw through the open door bodies lying on the floor of 
the third room. At the door stood soldiers with drawn revolvers. 
The three persons in front of me stepped onto the bodies and 
the soldiers at the door shot them in the back of the head. See- 
ing that an execution was taking place I began to scream and 
struggle. A soldier grabbed me and the woman behind me by 
the shoulder and pushed us into the first room in the cellar on 
the left of the entrance. On the threshold I fell over without 
being hit and felt the woman fall across my legs. After this 
other persons entered and were shot. Several bodies were lying 
on top of me. Lying beside a cupboard with bandages, I manag- 
ed to dress the wounds of a man who was still alive. When the 
executions in this room were over, at a rough guess there were 
about 50 bodies in the room. Two soldiers poured some liquid 
over the corpses by the door and set fire to them. The wounded 
took to their heels, the soldiers ran after them and I do not know 

* Main Commission Records 1100/z/V p. 1157. 


202 



if they succeeded in escaping. Taking advantage of the absence 
of the soldiers I and the other wounded man jumped over the 
burning corpses...” 

Only about 50 members of the medical and nursing «taff were 
taken off to St. Stanislaw Hospital. All the rest, apart from 
a small number who managed to hide or escape into the grounds 
of Karol and Maria Hospital were murdered. Some of the bodies 
were burned in the blazing buildings or on pyres; the rest were 
buried in the hospital grounds. 

After its seizure, the St. Stanislaw Hospital for infectious 
diseases at 37 Wolska Street was also cleared of its staff and all 
the patients who could stand on their feet were lined up in 
fours; they were taken out into the street a few groups at a time 
and shot as they went through the gate. After about twenty 
had been shot the hospital director managed to persuade the 
soldiers to suspend the executions; a delegation from the hospi- 
tal board escorted by soldiers were sent to Major Hartlieb, the 
chief medical officer of the Reinefarth Combat Group, to get 
him to stop the executions and save the hospital from destruc- 
tion. As a result of these negotiations, Major Hartlieb called off 
the executions. The course of this parley was described in an 
affidavit made by Dr. Joanna Kryhska.* 

“The escort led our group to a railway embankment where 
it turned out there was no field hospital. At a table sat Major 
Stabsarzt Hartlieb from the Rheinefarth Combat Group. He 
turned to the escort and said: ‘What have you brought them 
for? We don’t need any Poles, we will only have to shoot them!’ 
I went up to Dr. Hartlieb and informed him that a German 
officer had given his word of honour that we would not be shot. 
Later Dr. Hartlieb told us that there were express orders from 
Himmler to shoot all the Poles in Warsaw regardless of age or 
sex, and that Warsaw was to be levelled, in order to show Eu- 
rope what rising against the Germans meant. Then Dr. Hartlieb 

* Main Commission Records 1100/z/V p. 1207. 


203 



left us under guard and went off by motorcycle to St. Stanislaw 
Hospital to check that the German officer really had given his 
word that we would not be shot. On his return he informed us 
that after intervening with the authorities he had secured per- 
mission not to have us shot...” 

The units which had taken St. Lazarus Hospital entered the 
adjoining children’s hospital of Karol and Maria at 136 Leszno 
Street on August 6. There were about 60 sick children, about 
150 wounded and a certain number of civilians in the hospital. 
The children and some of the wounded were left in the hospital 
but the rest, including the doctors and hospital staff, were taken 
out into the street, formed into two groups, one of which was 
marched off towards Fort Bema, the other towards the Wola 
hospital. The wounded were separated and all trace of them 
disappeared. In the group taken to the Wola hospital the rest 
of the wounded were separated and orders were given to take 
them back to the children’s hospital, where they were shot. 

The same day a larger number of persons, including priests 
and monks from the Redemptorists’ priory at 49 Karolkowa 
Street, were shot in the farm machinery warehouse at 81 Wolska 
Street. The victims, after being robbed, were executed in groups, 
12 being taken at a time from the street into the warehouse. 
About 30 priests were shot first and they were followed by male 
civilians. After some time the executions were called off. There 
is an account of this shooting in an affidavit made by Stanislaw 
Jaworski.* 

“The group was finally halted on Wolska Street just beyond 
Sokolowska St. The priests were told to put their cases on the 
other side of the street. The priests and men who had been carry- 
ing the cases were formed up around them. In this way I was 
separated from my son who was with the priests. The ‘Ukrain- 
ians’ threw themselves on the cases and began to loot them. 
At the same time I saw a number of SS men order twelve of 

* Main Commission Records 1100/z/V p. 1257. 


204 



the priests to step out of the ranks; they led this group into the 
gate of the Kirchmeyer and Marczewski farm machinery ware- 
house opposite Sokolowska Street. Immediately afterwards 

1 heard single revolver shots and counted twelve of them. After 
a while the SS men took twelve more priests and led them inside 
the warehouse as before. About 30 or 31 priests and monks were 
taken and after that they began to take the men, starting with 
those who had been carrying the suitcases and moving on to 
those on the opposite side of the street. The fifth twelve includ- 
ed my son and I was in the sixth. Inside the gate I saw two 
sheds at the back standing against a fence running parallel to 
Wolska Street. I and the other eleven were led across the centre 
of the yard towards the sheds. I was nearer the first shed from 
the Sokolowska Street side, and could only see this shed. I then 
saw that from the front of the shed to the back the ground was 
piled with corpses, one on top of the other, to a height of half 
a metre. I do not know if there were bodies in the other shed. 
When I was about 4 or 5 metres from the shed a motorcycle 
came into the yard, a German N.C.O. got off (I could not make 
out his unit and rank) and gave some paper to the SS man lead- 
ing us. In the yard, apart from the ‘Ukrainians’ leading us, there 
was a large group of ‘Ukrainians’ and SS men. After reading 
the paper, the N.C.O. (I am not sure of his rank) who had been 
in charge of the execution, shouted ‘raus!’ after which our twelve 
was led out into Wolska Street, where we were added to the two 
twelves waiting outside the gate and all of us were re-attached 
to the group from which we had been taken and which was 
standing on the corner of Wolska and Sokolowska streets. The 
whole group was marched into Sokolowska Street. When we 
were turning into Sokolowska I saw on the side opposite to the 
Church of St. Wojciech a pile of bodies under the wall lying 
along a frontage about the same length as the church and about 

2 metres high and the height of a man in width. At a rough 
estimate there must have been about 400 bodies. I got the 
impression that the bodies must have been stacked there and 


205 



that they had not just piled up during an execution. The heap 
was too high...” 

Throughout that day and the ones that followed smaller num- 
bers of people were shot, mainly men, the sick and those unfit 
for work. The greatest number of shootings took place in the 
graveyard of St. Wojciech’s Church on Wolska Street and on 
the streets off it. 

Later the Germans only shot people taken from the columns 
of evacuees from other areas of Warsaw, who were being march- 
ed to St. Wojciech’s Church as an assembly area. 

After capturing the whole of Wola and carrying out this mass 
slaughter, the Germans evacuated the rest of the inhabitants. 
The houses, after being looted were systematically set on fire 
and blown up. 

The evacuees, after a short stop at St. Wojciech’s Church were 
taken to the camp at Pruszkow from where they were sent to 
concentration camps, labour camps for forced labour in the 
Reich; a relatively small number were sent to other localities 
in the Government General. 

The church parsonage was taken over by the Warsaw Gestapo 
as an office for conducting “interrogations” of the groups of 
people brought from the captured parts of Warsaw. These inter- 
rogations were mainly designed to catch young men suspected 
of being involved in the Uprising; they were usually shot in the 
vicinity of the church. 

To wipe out all traces of the murders, right at the beginning 
of the Uprising the Germans formed two special brigades of 
Polish workers (50 in each) called the Verbrennungskommando. 
Their job was to burn or bury the bodies of the victims. 
A description of this gruesome task was given by Franciszek 
Zasada in an affidavit:* 

“Both groups detained on the third floor were formed into 
a corps for burning bodies. In charge of the corps was Gestapo 

• Main Commission Records 1100/z JV p. 1234. 


206 



officer Neuman (he had one star on his shoulder) from Berlin. 
On the morning of August 7, 1944, our group was led out into 
the yard; we were ordered to undress and, wearing only trou- 
sers, were hustled down Sokolowska Street to Wolska Street and 
made to burn the bodies. Together with my group I burned bod- 
ies in the following places: on the odd-numbered side of Wolska 
Street — in the courtyard of No. 91, we found the bodies of 
about 100 men who had been shot. We burned them on the spot. 
In the farm machinery warehouse at 85 Wolska Street we found 
about 300 bodies in cassocks and about 80 in ordinary clothes. 
We burned them on the spot. On the same side as the ware- 
house, a little way down the street, at No. 83, we found the 
bodies of about fifty men who had been shot. Many of the bod- 
ies had bandages on them. At 60 Wolska Street, in the yard of 
the macaroni factory, we found a pile of bodies about 2 metres 
high, 20 metres long and 15 metres wide. Most of them were 
men and only some women and children. It took us several 
hours to burn these bodies. At a rough guess there must have 
been over 2,000 of them. 

“While we were burning these bodies a Gestapo man with 
three stars on his shoulder, blond, swarthy and of medium height, 
whose name I do not know, brought a number of men dressed 
in civilian clothes from the street and shot them immediately. 
We burned these bodies also. At the corner of Plocka Street our 
group was told to sit down, after which one of the Gestapo men 
addressed us saying that our lives were being spared for work- 
ing on the burning of the bodies; then he sent six men to fetch 
food from the neighbouring houses and after it was brought we 
went back to Sokolowska Street. Here we were given 50 loaves 
of bread, 50 packets of cigarettes and coffee. During the night 
we could hear bursts of firing. The next day after assembling 
us in the courtyard the Germans announced that any gold found 
among the bodies was to be handed over to them and that we 
must report it if we found anyone alive in the cellars; failure to 
carry out either of these orders would mean death. After the 


207 



address we were taken off to burn bodies. We entered the “Ur- 
sus” factory by the large gate on Wolska Street. The yard, all 
the way from the gate to the back wall on Skierniewicka Street, 
was covered with the bodies of men, women and children. There 
must have been about 5,000 of them. It took us all day to burn 
them. We made a bonfire in the middle of the large yard on the 
Wolska Street side. We laid planks on the ground and put bod- 
ies on top of them, covered these with another layer of planks 
and more bodies on top of these. Then we poured over the pile 
some inflammable liquid given us by Germans in 20-litre cans. 
I do not know what this liquid was; there was no label on the 
cans. 

“Much later I saw charred bones and skulls among the ashes. 
I do not know if anyone removed them. 

“In the evening we took smaller numbers of bodies from 47, 
49 and 54 Wolska Street. There were 100 in No. 47 lying in a 
water-filled pit and 3 in No. 49. Later we were given dressings, 
soap, towels and clothing, all of it looted from the surrounding 
houses. In addition two of us were allowed to cook some food. 

“The next day we made a tour of the gateways on Wolska 
Street removing small numbers of bodies. 

“On August 9, 1944, we came to the ‘Franaszek’ factory. In 
the main yard and down one side from the shelter as far as the 
gate there were the bodies of about 6,000 men. We worked all 
day burning these bodies. I saw the bodies of tramwaymen, 
watchmen and policemen. In the shelter of the ‘Franaszek’ 
factory’s main block the Germans found valuables and expen- 
sive products such as sardines, vodka, etc. Two horse carts took 
these things away. Neuman took a necklace worth over 200,000 
zlotys. From then on we saw the Gestapo men stealing for 
themselves. 

“On August 10, 1944, we went to the Municipal Transport 
Works. There were about 300 bodies lying next to the main 
sheds. 

“Next we went to 29 Wolska Street, the Biernacki Palace. In 


208 



the grounds we found about 600 bodies of women, children and 
old people including three priests, belonging, I learned later, 
to the Order of Redemptorists in Karolkowa Street. Four or 
five of the bodies were lying just by the railings. We burned the 
bodies where they lay. 

"On the lot at 24 Wolska Street, where there is now a timber- 
yard, but which once contained a merry-go-round and a dance 
hall, we found the bodies of about 1,000 men, women and chil- 
dren. We burned the bodies on the spot and the next day remov- 
ed the charred bones and threw them in a pit formed by a huge 
bomb crater. When we were taking away the charred bones 
1 saw the bodies of 5 or 6 newly-murdered men; we took these 
away as well and buried them in the pit about 10 metres deep. 
Next we were taken to St. Lazarus Hospital and in the first 
courtyard gathered about 5,000 bodies from all over the build- 
ings, even from the beds and operating tables. We had to make 
three bonfires. Apart from those we burned we also buried 
a large number of bodies. 

“From St. Lazarus Hospital on Wolska Street we went to the 
corner of Karolkowa and Leszno streets, where we found the 
bodies of 42 men and women in a factory. From there we were 
taken down Zytnia Street to Mlynarska and to the cemetery of 
the Evangelical church. In the cemetery, mainly at the back, 
there was a large number of single bodies — insurgents, Ger- 
mans and civilians. 

"In the corset factory at 6 Wolska Street we found about 500 
bodies in the yard and the garden. From there we went down 
Wolska Street past the viaduct and took the bodies from all the 
yards on the even side. 

“In Sowinski Park we found about 6,000 bodies. They lay 
tumbled over by the railings on the Wolska Street side in a heap 
1 .4 metres high, 25 metres long and 25 metres wide. We burned 
them in piles on the square in the park. People from my group 
also brought bodies to Sowinski Park from the Hankiewicz house 


n 


209 



and from houses on Elekcyjna and Ordona Street. I myself was 
not involved in this so I do not know exactly how many there 
were. After this we collected bodies in groups of 20-30 and 50 
from yards on Ogrodowa, Leszno and Solna streets. 

“While we were burning bodies at 43 or 45 Ogrodowa Street, 
the Germans caught two men aged 54 and 22, a father and son, 
and shot them both. At 11 Elektoralna Street the Gestapo men, 
in the presence of Gutkowski, shot eight women whom they had 
dragged out of their homes. 

“From 18 Elektoralna Street we took 18 bodies, from 58 Ogro- 
dowa Street — about 40 bodies, from 20 Leszno Street — about 
100 bodies from 5 or 7 Ogrodowa Street (I do not remember 
exactly) — about 30 bodies of women and children. At 25 Gor- 
czewska Street we took about 200 bodies from the courtyard, 
rooms, staircase and garden. 

“From 31 to 26 Plocka Street (The Wola Hospital) we took 
about 200 bodies, many of them casualty cases with their arms 
and legs in splints. We took bodies from the stairs, corridors and 
street. We took about 40 bodies from the Franc and Jane fish 
store in the square by Mirowska Hall and Ciepla Street, and 
about 150 bodies from the cellars of Mirowska Hall. 

Along Wolska Street, from No. 102 up to Elekcyjna Street, 
we took over a dozen bodies from each house. 

“On Przechodnia Street (I do not remember the number) we 
took the bodies of about 20 women and children...’’ 

Atrocities against civilians never reached the same mass scale 
in other parts of the city as they did in Wola on that tragic 
August 5. Nevertheless, wherever the Nazi troops went, they 
left behind them a trail of blood of tens of thousands of victims. 
The diminished scale of the slaughter was probably the result 
of the cancelling of the order to murder all civilians regardless 
of age or sex. 

The Reinefarth Combat Group, after gaining control of Wola. 
split into two wings. One of them moved down Wolska, Chlodna 
and Elektoralna streets towards the Saxon Gardens area with 


210 



the object of joining up with the troops of General Stahel, which 
were surrounded by the insurgents, and then attacking the Old 
Town from the soiith. The other wing was sent through Pow^z- 
ki, the ghetto and Muranow to attack the Old Town from the 
north. 

On August 7 the Wolska-Chlodna wing joined up with Gener- 
al Stahel’s troops. In its wake it left many atrocities, the worst 
of which was a mass murder in one of the Mirowska Halls when 
a large group of men were shot, including some brought from 
the cellars of 30 Ogrodowa Street and a number of men who 
had previously been employed to take away the bodies of the 
victims. The men were lined up in threes, taken inside the hall 
several batches at a time and shot by the wall. The bodies 
were thrown into a large bomb crater in which a bonfire had 
been lit and burned. 

The same day about twenty people from the Maltese Hospi- 
tal at 42 Senatorska Street were murdered; all the patients and 
staff of the hospital were dragged out into the street and the 
buildings burned. * 

After overrunning the area round the Grand Theatre the Ger- 
mans carried out mass murders on August 8 and 9; the victims 
were men brought from Fredro, Wierzbowa, and Senatorska 
streets and the Saxon Gardens. The executions took place on 
the stage and in the auditorium of the theatre. 

The same day individuals were shot in the building of the 
seminary at 52 Krakowskie Przedmiescie. There were also many 
cases of rape. 

At 5 Kozia Street a large group of men was shot on August 10. 
They were led into the courtyard in groups of ten and shot in 
the back of the head. The bodies were burned immediately. 
There were other murders in the Saxon Gardens, the Luxem- 
bourg Gallery, the Church of St. Anthony on Senatorska street, 
and other places. On the whole, women and children were ex- 
cluded from these executions. 


211 



Along the route followed by the second wing mass executions 
took place on the site of a fuel dump at 59 Okopowa Street 
where the victims were burned immediately, being laid in layers 
on piles of wood, and on the site of warehouses on Stawki 
Street. The main victims here were old people, men unfit for 
work and persons suspected of having taken part in the Upris- 
ing. 

The Old Town was taken on September 2 and the atrocities 
followed. The victims were mainly the sick and wounded in the 
hospitals and temporary first-aid stations. The Germans did not 
even spare the aged and crippled in various institutions. Partic- 
ularly savage was the treatment of the wounded who were 
murdered ruthlessly and often burned alive. Among the hospi- 
tals where the Germans ran riot were those at 10 Freta Street, 
7 Dluga Street, 25 Podwale Street (“The Crooked Lantern”), 
46 Podwale Street (“The Black Swan”), 24 Miodowa Street and 
1/3 Kiliriski Street. Some of the civilians and less sick were eva- 
cuated from the Old Town and many of them were shot along 
the way on Podwale and Wqski Dunaj streets, on Castle Square 
and in Mariensztat. 

Ochota was the operating area of General Rohr’s troops and 
the notorious Kaminski Brigade. The atrocities committed in 
this district, after the insurgents had pulled out on August 5 
included the murder of civilians, by groups or individually, the 
throwing of living persons into the blazing houses, the rape of 
women, and wholesale looting. The most savage of these crimes 
was the slaughter of the patients and staff of the Sklodowska- 
Curie Radium Institute at 15 Wawelska Street on August 5. 
There were executions of civilians, mainly men, at 20b and 
24 Grojecka Street, in the Staszic Colony, the student’s hostel 
on Narutowicz Square, in the Mokotow Gardens at 52/54 Wa- 
welska Street, at the Father Baudouin Institute, at 80 Nowo- 
grodzka Street, on Pluga Street and on Uniwersytecka Street. 
Single individuals were murdered and women raped in the Child 


212 



Jesus Hospital and the birth clinic, and also in the “Zieleniak”* 
where people thrown out of their homes had been collected. 

In Mokotow one of the scenes of mass slaughter was the site 
of the former General Inspectorate of the Armed Forces, partial- 
ly destroyed in 1939, situated at 1 Ujazdowskie Avenue next to 
the Gestapo headquarters on Szucha Avenue. There were mass 
executions here from the first days of the Uprising with the 
bodies burned in specially constructed incinerators. Once the 
Germans had taken Czerniakow, Sadyba and Siekierki they also 
began executing men from the evacuation transports, if they 
suspected them of having fought in the Uprising. There were 
also mass executions in the prison on Rakowiecka Street as well 
as in the barracks on the same street and on Dworkowa Street; 
here the slaughter included the killing on September 27 of about 
100 insurgents caught coming out of the sewers. All the priests 
and brothers were murdered in the underground chapel of the 
Jesuits at 61 Rakowiecka Street. There was another mass mur- 
der on the children’s playground at 2/4 Bagatela Street in the 
first days of the Uprising. 

It needs hardly be said that this list of executions does not 
cover all the Nazi atrocities during the Uprising. These are only 
the most typical and vilest examples of their savagery. 

The Germans, in spite of all the efforts they made, did not 
succeed in wiping out all traces of their crimes. After the end 
of the war it was still possible to find and collect an enormous 
quantity of human ash on the sites where the bodies of the 
victims had been burned. These included the General Inspector- 
ate of the Armed Forces - 5,578 kg., Sowinski Park, 1,120 kg., 
60 Wolska Street - 1,029 kg., 47 Dzielna Street - 600 kg., St. 
Stanislaw Hospital and the “Franaszek” factory - 600 kg., 
59 Okopowa Street - 192 kg., the “Dobrolin” factory — 120 kg., 
the Sklodowska-Curie Radium Institute — 10 kg., Gorczewska, 


* The name given in Warsaw to a walled site on the western fringe 
of the city where there was a fruit and vegetable market. 


213 



Mlynarska and Wolska streets — 124 kg., and G§sia Street — 
2,180 kg.* 

The order to destroy and loot Warsaw remained in force even 
after the Uprising was put down. 

For these “heroic deeds” three of the unit commanders were 
decorated by Hitler: von dem Bach, Reinefarth and Dirlewanger. 
The latter was specially congratulated by Governor General 
Frank, who expressed his appreciation for “the exemplary 
action of his combat group during the fighting in Warsaw,” at 
a reception held in his honour in Wawel Castle on October 16, 
1944. 

The extent of the slaughter in Warsaw is eloquently summed 
up in a statement made by Reinefarth, reported in No. 294 of 
the Ostdeutscher Beobachter (Poznan) for November 5, 1944, 
concerning the “heroic action” of his Combat Group during the 
Warsaw Uprising: “We have both defeated the enemy and dealt 
him losses amounting to about a quarter of a million people...” 


• Report of the Warsaw Funeral Establishment on the exhumation 
of ashes on March 17, 1947; Main Commission Records 1100/z/V p. 1279. 



Epilogue 


For over five years the Nazi flag with its black swastika hung 
from the Royal Tower of Wawel Castle in Cracow. For the Poles 
these five years were a long, unimaginable nightmare. In its 
political plans Nazism had, as we have seen, set itself the task 
of physically wiping out the Polish nation, and was not fastid- 
ious about the methods used to reach this objective. 

In this book there has been room only for a brief account of 
just some of the worst excesses committed by the Nazis in Po- 
land. The emphasis has been mainly on the actions aimed at the 
direct extermination of a people who lived there for centuries, 
actions which resulted in the death of millions of Polish citizens. 

The scope of this work has made it impossible to discuss in 
more detail all the measures of the Nazi authorities who in every 
field of life were guided by this single motive of destroying the 
Poles as a nation. 

A few facts and figures taken from the report of the War 
Reparations Office at the Presidium of the Council of Ministers 
will serve to illustrate this.* These dry figures bear the most 
eloquent testimony to the infamy of the occupation. 

During the war and occupation, between 1939 and 1945, no 
less than 6,028,000 Polish citizens lost their lives. Of these, 


* Report on War Losses and Damage in Poland in 1939—1945. War- 
szawa, January 1947. 


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644,000 — that is 10.7 per cent — died as the result of military 
operations and 5,384,000 — that is 89.9 per cent — as a result of 
the terror unleashed by the Nazis. This ratio speaks for itself. 

Out of the total number of victims of the terror: 

3.577.000 died in death camps or as a result of the “liquida- 
tion” of ghettos, pacification actions, executions, 
etc. 

1.286.000 died in concentration camps, penal labour camps 
etc., or in prison 

521,000 died outside the camps as a result of wounds, inju- 
ries, overwork, physical depletion, etc. 

In this total figure 3,200,000 were Polish citizens of Jewish 
descent. The vast majority of them perished in the mass exter- 
mination campaigns as victims of racial persecution. 

Out of all the countries overrun by the Nazis the greatest 
losses in human lives were suffered by Poland. These came to 
220 per thousand inhabitants, as compared with Holland where 
the proportion was 22, or ten times less, and Belgium — 7, or 
over 30 times less. In Yugoslavia, which is next to Poland in 
human losses, the proportion was 108 per thousand inhabitants, 
that is less than half the Polish figure. 

A milder form of terror practiced by the Nazis was the depor- 
tation of Poles for forced labour in Germany or the territories 
occupied by the Reich. A total of 2,460,000 Polish citizens fell 
victim to the deportations. Only a relatively small number of 
them had voluntarily reported for labour. “Recruitment” nor- 
mally took the form of round-ups when able-bodied men and 
women were dragged off the streets or even from their homes 
and then sent off as manpower for industry or agriculture. 
After the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising in October 1944 
many thousands of civilians suffered the same fate. 

Pursuing their objective of the physical destruction of the 
Polish nation the Nazis used not only methods of direct or indi- 
rect extermination but also of devastating the economic poten- 


216 



tial of the country. The losses suffered by Poland in this respect 
came to many thousands of millions dollars. Partly these were 
caused by the crippling economic policy of the occupation author- 
ities and partly by military operations, especially as a result 
of the “scorched earth” strategy followed by the Nazis as they 
were driven from Polish territory by the Soviet offensive in 
1944-1945. Enormous losses were also caused by straightforward 
looting camouflaged as confiscation or requisitioning of various 
types of goods (factory plant, for example), which were taken 
to the Reich. 

It would be impossible to give even a cursory picture of the 
economic havoc dealt Poland during the Second World War. 
To give an example, the Germans destroyed about 21,000 fac- 
tories, 80,000 artisans’ workshops and 200,000 shops on Polish 
territory. 

The largest losses were suffered by Warsaw. In 1939 it had 
been severely damaged by bombing, most of it unwarranted by 
military needs, (the bombing of the ancient Royal Castle, several 
hospitals, etc.). In 1943, as a result of the liquidation of the 
ghetto, the whole area in which it was situated was laid waste. 
During the Uprising, and particularly after its crushing and the 
expulsion of the inhabitants, Warsaw was not only thoroughly 
looted but also systematically devastated. In terms of buildings 
destroyed the losses came to 80 per cent of those standing before 
the war. 

The campaign against Polish culture and education occupied 
a large place in the execution of the Nazi political programme in 
Poland. It took the form not only of murdering the intelligentsia 
who died in their hundreds of thousands in executions and var- 
ious types of camps, but also of destroying hundreds of archi- 
tectural monuments, including the Royal Castle and Cathedral 
in Warsaw. Practically every statue in every Polish town was 
pulled down. Many priceless library collections were laid waste. 
Countless works of art in public and private collections were 
destroyed or looted. 


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The instructions drawn up by Himmler and endorsed by 
Hitler on the treatment of foreign nationals in the East were 
put into effect by the occupation authorities with inspired thor- 
oughness. All Polish educational institutions, from universities 
to technical colleges and secondary schools, were closed. The 
level of instruction in the primary and vocational schools was 
greatly lowered. The teaching of Polish history, literature, geo- 
graphy, etc., was banned. 

The Germans hoped to reduce the cultural level of the Poles 
by forbidding the formation of any organization of a cultural 
nature, by a judicious selection of theatre and cinema pro- 
grammes, by promoting worthless publications while at the same 
time banning the printing of masterpieces of Polish literature, 
particularly of a patriotic or historical character. 

A great amount of effort was put into the task of corrupting 
Polish society both in the towns and countryside. For example, 
all bonuses given to farmers for delivering their compulsory 
consignments of produce on time were in the shape of vodka. 
The authorities turned a blind eye to the illicit distillation of 
alcohol. In Warsaw, gambling halls were opened which only 
Poles were allowed to attend. Prostitution was tolerated. The 
printing and distribution of pornography was encouraged. 

A number of economic measures in the Government General, 
aimed at total exploitation of the land for the benefit of the 
Reich, led to a catastrophic food situation in the towns as well 
as in the villages. Even top officials in the administration, from 
Frank down, realized that the devastation of the food resources 
of the country ordered by the Reich leaders was taking on 
tragic proportions. An excerpt from Frank’s Diary is eloquent 
evidence of this: “The Senior Health Counsellor, Dr. Walbaum, 
expressed his opinion on the health situation among the Poles. 
Investigations by his department have shown that the majority 
of Poles are consuming barely 600 calories while the normal 
needs of a man are 2,200 calories. The Poles are so depleted 


218 



/ 


that they are easy prey to typhoid fever... The increase in tuber- 
culosis is equally disturbing.”* 

After the war, the War Reparations Office at the Presidium 
of the Council of Ministers found that, in actual fact, the number 
of T.B. cases during the occupation exceeded the average for 
a similar length of time before the war by 1,140.000.** 

Following Himmler’s instructions, the occupation authorities 
tried, without success in fact, to split the Polish nation from the 
inside by creating artifically separate racial groups. For in- 
stance, they tried to form the highlanders living in the region of 
the Tatra Mountains into a separate nation (Goralenvolk) — 
a scheme that the local inhabitants reacted to with a complete 
lack of enthusiasm. 

These few examples, which could easily be multiplied, have 
been quoted only to show that the account given in this book is 
only a small fragment of the whole story of the occupation in 
Poland. It must be added that even in this account we have 
not covered every point of the subjects raised in it, or drawn 
on all the material available. 

We have tried to present an objective and documented picture 
of events which though they belong to the past are not so dis- 
tant that we can forget them. Our chief motive in recalling them 
is as a warning that they should not happen again. Unfortunate- 
ly, we cannot ignore the signs pointing to the danger of their 
recurrence. 

Despite the collapse of the Nazi Reich in 1945, the forces which 
brought about the Second World War and were responsible for 
the death, suffering and misery of many millions of human 
beings were not totally destroyed or incapacitated. Today they 
are again trying to re-assert themselves. There is evidence of 
this in the resurgence of militarism in West Germany and in 
the emergence of neofascism and racism here and there. 

* Mans Frank's Diary: Tagebnch 1941/III, p. 820. 

** Report on War Losses and Damage in Poland in 1939 — 1945. War- 
szawa, January 1947. 


219